Red Tide is Back
If you’ve visited your favorite Gulf of Mexico beach this week, it’s likely you’ve been met by some unwelcomed visitors. And no, we’re not talking about spring breakers. Sadly, red tide is making its uninvited presence known.
Red tide is a phenomenon that occurs when a type of algae, Karenia brevis, grows uncontrollably in the ocean, causing the water to turn red or brown. This type of algae produces a toxin that is harmful to marine life, including fish, manatees, and sea turtles. Florida is particularly vulnerable to red tide, and outbreaks have been reported along the state’s coast for decades. The toxins from red tide can also affect humans, causing respiratory problems and skin irritation, especially for those who suffer from asthma.
Red tide can have a devastating impact on wildlife in Florida’s coastal areas. The toxin produced by the algae can cause fish to die in large numbers, affecting other animals that rely on them for food. Dolphins and birds, for example, can be affected by red tide if they consume fish that have been contaminated.
Red tide is a hot topic and researchers are working to determine ways to halt the growing number of red tide blooms. Dr. Katherine Hubbard, Director of the FWC Center for Red Tide Research, received the Rodney Barreto Award provided by our Foundation in 2021. As leader of the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) group, her work during 2021’s red tide season was instrumental in mitigating the loss of wildlife and damage to surrounding habitats. Check out the video below developed by FWC to help educate the public on the dangers of red tide:
An easy way to help prevent red tide is to limit use of fertilizer as the nutrients present in them feed the algae that cause red tide. You can also purchase our Discover Florida’s Oceans plate to help preserve our oceans and protect the plants and animals that call it home. To protect yourself and your family, click here to see your favorite beaches’ current red tide status before heading out.