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Red Tide update: We have some helpful information about the Red Tide issues in our area. Red Tide hit us in late July and the effects caused a large fish kill in our area. Since then, we have cleaned up all the dead fish on the beaches and have seen continuous improvements including signs of our Gulf of Mexico waters clearing up. We have setup a live streaming camera on one of our beaches and links to the Red Tide status reports and forecasts on the tabs above.
To see a forecast of Red Tide in our area click on this link completed by the Ocean Circulation Group, Marine Science division of the University of South Florida.
Water conditions in our area over the last week have improved tremendously and testing done by Mote Marine, a scientific group out of the University of South Florida has reported conditions are much better. Click on this link for an up to date report.
A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plant-like organism). In marine (saltwater) environments along Florida’s west coast and the elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes red tides is Karenia brevis, often abbreviated as K. brevis. To distinguish K. brevis blooms from red tides caused by other species of algae, researchers in Florida call it “Florida red tide.”
Red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer than a year. They can even subside and then reoccur. The duration of a bloom in nearshore Florida waters depends on physical, chemical, biological and ecological conditions that influence its growth and persistence, including sunlight, nutrients and salinity, as well as the speed and direction of wind and water currents.
Although the occurrence of a Florida red tide cannot be predicted, scientists can forecast its movement using wind and water current data once a bloom is located. Scientists also monitor the concentration of the red tide organism by collecting water samples routinely and in response to blooms. Red tide movement and concentration are important because the effects of a red tide, such as dead fish and human respiratory irritation, depend on these factors. The information provided by forecasting and monitoring allows people to make informed decisions regarding their beach-going activities. Currently, Mote Marine Laboratory, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provide status reports about Florida red tides to the public. (See full list of red tide resources at the top of this page.)
Some people experience respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing, tearing and an itchy throat) when the Florida red tide organism, K. brevis, is present and winds blow onshore. Offshore winds usually keep respiratory effects experienced by those on the shore to a minimum. The Florida Department of Health advises people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, to avoid red tide areas.
People with underlying chronic respiratory problems like asthma or COPD should avoid red tide areas, especially when winds are blowing toxins on or near shore, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Swimming is safe for most people. However, the Florida red tide can cause some people to suffer skin irritation and burning eyes. People with respiratory illness may also experience respiratory irritation in the water. Use common sense. If you are particularly susceptible to irritation from plant products, avoid an area with a red tide bloom. If you experience irritation, get out of the water and thoroughly wash off. Do not swim among dead fish because they can be associated with harmful bacteria.
Yes. Store-bought and restaurant-served shellfish are safe to eat during a bloom because the shellfish industry is closely monitored by state agencies for shellfish safety. Commercially available shellfish are often not locally harvested and, if harvested locally, are tested for red tide toxins before they are sold. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services closes shellfish harvest areas affected by Florida red tide.
Just like people, pets may be affected by the Florida red tide. If you live close to the beach, consider bringing outdoor pets inside during a bloom to prevent respiratory irritation. If you are at the beach with your pets, do not allow them to play with dead fish or foam that may accumulate on the beach during or after a red tide. If your pet eats dead fish, it may get sick. If your pet swims in the red tide, wash it as soon as possible. Most dogs lick themselves after swimming and will consume any toxins on their fur.