SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- If the red tide wasn't bad enough, now several Sarasota County beaches are off-limits to swimmers due to high bacteria levels.
- High bacteria levels found during water quality testing
- Officials: bacteria levels probably due to natural causes
- Advisories will remain in effect until more water quality testing completed
A "no swim" advisory has been issued for five beaches because of bacteria concerns.
Florida Health Sarasota County said the alerts were for these beaches:
- Longboat Key
- Lido Casino
- Siesta Key Beach
- Venice Fishing Pier
While the beaches are still open, health officials do not recommend wading or swimming in the water.
"It's disappointing, because we've been talking about this for months now," said tourist Dominique Shields, who we spoke to on Siesta Key Beach. "We just got here and then we saw the advisory and, oh, my, we can't get in the water. It's disappointing."
The county says high levels of bacteria were found during water quality testing.
"It's upsetting," said Latasha Benton, who is visiting from Ohio and celebrating her 40th birthday. "Here we have our bathing suits on, ready to get in the water and take pictures to show our families back home and we can't get in the water."
Officials said the high bacteria levels are probably due to natural sources, such as bird waste. When you mix in dead fish from the red tide, well, you get families like the Stewarts saying they're staying far up on the shore.
"It's rough," Anthony Stewart said. "We'd like to be able to get in the ocean, but we decided we'll just spread out on the beach instead of getting wet."
Health officials said the advisory will remain in effect until more testing is done and they can be sure the water is safe.
No contact advisory remains in effect for Shore Acres waters
Meanwhile, water resources officials are continuing to advise residents and visitors against swimming in Placido and Grande Bayou - as well as any of the canals connecting to those basins.
That's after an unauthorized discharge from a lift station.
Signs were posted immediately after the spill -- advising against swimming, fishing or playing in the waters nearby as samples are being fully tested.
Water samples taken at the lift station point-of-entry, Bayou Grande Boulevard NE Bridge and Venetian Boulevard NE bridge show enterococci and fecal coliform concentrations above acceptable levels.
"They exceeded the water quality criteria," said Water Resources Director John Palenchar, adding that the advisory is all about ensuring public health and safety.