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Bird Key Beach closed to swimmers

Bird Key Park
Bird Key Park
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 9:59 AM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Bacteria detected in the water has closed Bird Key Park to swimmers, Sarasota County health officials said Wednesday.

Officials say the amount of enterococcus bacteria found during testing Nov. 22 was outside acceptable limits. The beach, located on John Ringling Causeway near the entrance to Bird Key, remains open, but wading, swimming and water recreation is not recommended when no swim advisories are in place.

Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation will stay in place until follow-up results meet water quality standards.

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County has already resampled the beach. Results will be available Friday, Nov. 26.

Enterococcus bacteria can come from a variety of natural and human-made sources. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, land-dwelling and marine wildlife, stormwater runoff, and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills.

The 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 along the shoreline. Wrack lines, which provide food for shorebirds and wildlife, act as natural bacteria reservoirs.

“When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill,”DOH-Sarasota Environmental Administrator Tom Higginbotham said in a news release. “People, especially those who are very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system that swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water contacts a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes.”

To help keep beach water safe for swimming and recreation, do not allow pets to roam on beaches and in park areas and pick up pet waste. Additionally, children in diapers and people of all ages with diarrhea should not go into the water.

For more information:

Visit https://ourgulfenvironment.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.

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