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Water-Related News

No-swim advisory issued for Bird Key Park beach in Sarasota

For updated water quality data, visit the Florida Healthy Beaches website.

As a precaution, Sarasota County health officials have issued a no-swim advisory for Bird Key Park.

The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Thursday (June 26th) was high.

The beach remains open, but wading, swimming and water recreation is not recommended as long as there is an advisory in place, the county said in a news release.

Signs advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation will stay in place until follow-up water testing results meet federal recreational water quality standards. The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County expects to have the next round of test results available on Friday, June .

Enterococcus bacteria can come from a variety of natural and human-made sources. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, wildlife (land-dwelling and marine), stormwater runoff and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills. No sewage spills have been reported within one mile of the beach in the past month.

The rapid-response team from Sarasota County has determined the cause of the elevated bacteria levels is likely due to natural sources. The response team observed dense mats of decaying algae among the rocks and along the shoreline. These algae mats, which contain a variety of marine organisms that provide food for shorebirds and wildlife, act as natural bacteria reservoirs. Recent heavy rains in the area that wash accumulated pollutants, including bacteria from pet feces, birds, and wildlife into local waters could also be an important factor.