Almost every summer in Florida, an algal bloom known as the red tide appears in the waters of the Gulf Coast. These flowers typically last a few weeks, but can occasionally last months and cause problems for marine life, people and businesses.
What causes red tide in Florida?
Red tide is a naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs in the Gulf of Mexico when a microscopic alga called Karenia brevis accumulates and grows rapidly. This process begins when storms and topical nutrients surge from the bottom of the gulf to the surface. The current then carries the red tide organisms ashore, where warm water and other nutrients such as polluted rainwater runoff and leakage from septic tanks bring them to harmful levels.
Is the red tide harmful?
In the right conditions, red algae will spread and release toxins that kill marine life and cause health problems in humans. Red tidal flowers are often characterized by large numbers of dead fish that swim on the surface and wash up on the banks. When people are exposed to red tide toxins in the air, they experience irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, and symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. People with breathing problems are advised to avoid the tide. However, it is advisable that everyone consult their doctor in order to take proper precautions. It is also recommended not to swim in waters where dead fish are present.
When will the red tide go away?
The right conditions will help soothe the red tide blooms, but there is no way to predict how long it might take. Wind and currents can carry the bloom offshore, cold temperatures can kill organisms, or the red tide can disperse naturally if the nutrients needed for growth are lacking.
What can you do to help
Extensive research is currently being carried out to mitigate and control the future blooms of the red tide. Residents can help by reducing chemical use in their yards and reporting dead marine species to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Non-residents are encouraged to visit the Sunshine State and support local businesses, including when shopping online. Florida businesses depend on visitors every year, and when the tide keeps visitors away, everyone is affected – restaurants, fishing guides, shops, hotels.
Florida is still the best place in the US to have fun in the sun. Get your Florida fishing license and start planning your next family fishing adventure.