‘No Swim’ Advisory issued for Caspersen Beach
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL – As a precaution, Sarasota County health officials have issued a “No Swim” advisory at: Caspersen Beach, 4100 Harbor Drive, Venice, FL 34285.
The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Wednesday, May 24 was outside acceptable limits. The beach remains open. Wading, swimming and water recreation is not recommended as long as an advisory is in place. People are encouraged to read the signage and heed flags when present at area beaches.
Some bacteria are naturally present in the environment. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found a link between health and water quality. Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation at Caspersen Beach will stay in place until follow-up water testing results meet the EPA’s recreational water quality standard. The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) expects to have the next round of test results available on Friday, May 26.
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 team observed a wrack line of decaying algae and shorebird activity. Wrack lines which contain marine algae and a variety of marine organisms that provide food for shorebirds and wildlife act as natural bacteria reservoirs. Recent rains in the area that wash accumulated pollutants, including bacteria from pet feces, birds, and wildlife into local waters are an important factor. In addition, high surf conditions associated with recent fronts churn up sand from the bottom and can affect water quality.
DOH-Sarasota Environmental Administrator Tom Higginbotham emphasizes the Florida Healthy Beaches program protects beach goers from unsuitable swimming conditions by testing beach water and providing up-to-date explanations of the results.
“When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill. People especially those who are very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system who swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water comes in contact with a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes.” says Higginbotham.
Local health officials emphasize that while beaches remain open, residents and visitors are urged not to wade, swim or engage in water recreation at Caspersen Beach until the advisory is lifted. In addition, shellfish such as crabs and shrimp should not be eaten if collected in the immediate area of Caspersen Beach. Finfish caught live and healthy can be eaten if filleted.
“Our coastline of more than 30 miles of world-class beaches is a wonderful asset to our community,” says Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County. “Let’s work together to help preserve this amenity.”
To help keep beach water safe for swimming and recreation, do not allow pets to roam on beaches so there is no pet waste. Additionally, children in diapers and people of all ages with diarrhea should not go into the water.
Testing has revealed bacteria levels within acceptable limits at the following area beaches:
North Lido Beach North Jetty Beach
South Lido Park Beach Venice Beach
Lido Casino Beach Venice Fishing Pier
Longboat Key Service Club Beach
Bird Key Park (Ringling Causeway) South Brohard Beach
Siesta Beach Manasota Key Beach
Turtle Beach Blind Pass Beach
“It is important to know that our beaches are never closed,” says Haley. “When making beach day plans, be sure to check the latest reports on beach conditions and read beach condition signs at beach entrance ways. The signs are also posted on lifeguard stands when present.”
For more information:
- Visit https://ourgulfenvironment.scgov.net and click on water monitoring and then bacterial testing to check beach water testing results of area Gulf beaches.
- Call 941-BEACHES (941-232-2437) or visit www.visitbeaches.org. Click on the same link to the mobile-friendly version of the beach conditions report.
- The local visitor and convention bureau known as Visit Sarasota County also provides extensive information about the Sarasota area, including its beaches. The website is www.visitsarasota.org.