Updated report: As of December 19th, 2018 Red Tide is nearly gone from Florida waters.
Here is some useful information regarding red tide and a good place to start. Over the summer we have been asked almost daily the reports and our most common answer is if the weather permits we go out and simply avoid areas that have signs or reports of red tide since the blooms are very patchy and localized.
Why reports appear so bad on the mainland is a particular beach or resort can’t “move” to avoid the algae bloom like a boat can. Red tide does not affect the edibility of the fish we catch but none the less we don’t fish in waters affected by the bloom.
- Harmful Algal blooms (HAB’s), commonly referred to as red tide, occur worldwide and are caused by microscopic algae (Plant-like microorganisms).
- At high concentrations (known as blooms), algae may discolor the water –sometimes red, green or brown.
- In Florida, red tide is caused by a naturally occurring algae called Karenia brevis or K. brevis
- K. brevis is found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico, yet sometimes has been found along the US East Coast from Florida to North Carolina.
- The organism produces toxins that can affect the central nervous systems of fish, birds, mammals and other animals.
- Seafood from grocery stores, restaurants and hotels comes from areas that are monitored for red tide. Filets from healthy fish even with red tide present can be eaten. Edible parts of other shellfish including crabs, shrimp and lobster are also not affected by red tide and can be eaten.
- Blooms of K. brevis can irritate the skin, eyes and throat. They can also affect the breathing of some people.
- A bloom can last days, weeks or months and its location and size can change daily due to wind conditions and water currents. That is why accurate reporting is so important. One part of a bay or gulf can seem perfectly fine while another location only a mile away will have signs of red tide.
- No single factor causes blooms of K. brevis. Blooms form as a result of interactions between biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (the currents that unite nutrients with light and carry red tide to the beach).
- 1Up-to-date information on Florida HABs and K. brevis can be readily at mote.org.
Red Tide Info & Status Reports: www.myfwc.com/redtide