Red tide is blanketing some Florida beaches: What you need to know about the toxic algae

Red tide is currently blanketing the Southwest Florida coast.

Levels from Tampa Bay south to Marco Island range from around 10,000 cells per liter to more than 1 million cells per liter, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fish kills and breathing issues in humans can start when levels reach 10,000 cells per liter, according to the FWC.

Fish kills have been problematic in waters near Collier County, home of Naples, in recent weeks.

On the eastern coast of the state, water taken from the Juno Beach Pier on Feb. 15 tested positive for background amounts of red tide, but the amount was so miniscule it was not expected to have any detrimental health effects, and it was gone when a follow-up test was taken Feb. 22.

A Florida homeowner opened his front door. He was bitten by an alligator.

USS Albacore:World War II submarine lost at sea for almost 80 years found off coast of Japan

Florida red tide map

Is red tide harmful to humans?

When the toxin from red tide is inhaled, it can cause respiratory symptoms in people, such as coughing, wheezing and sore throats.

In marine life, it’s a killer that affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

What exactly is red tide?

It is a sea-faring toxic algae, formally known as the single-cell Karenia brevis.

It produces a toxin as a defense mechanism.

What is the main cause of red tide and how long does it last?

Red tides are naturally occurring. They have been observed in the Gulf of Mexico since the 1800s.

They can grow far offshore in the Gulf and pile up near the coast in the fall and winter as wind patterns blow cold fronts into Florida.

Red tide is often gone by spring, but in some years, the infection has lingered.

Palm Beach lifeguard George Klein wears a mask at Midtown Beach in Palm Beach that remains closed due to red tide warnings, Sunday, September 30, 2018. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

Is red tide present in Florida right now?

Yes. Samples on Florida’s west coast from Venice to Naples tested at high levels of toxicity.

Fish kills have been problematic in Collier County waters in recent weeks. Rhonda Watkins, a pollution control environmental supervisor for Collier County, said reports of dead fish are widespread.

Medium levels have been found in the Florida Keys.

It’s possible a stronger dose of red tide could find its way to Florida’s east coast beaches, according to James Sullivan, executive director of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Red tide hit Florida beaches hard in 2018

A persistent red tide bloom lasted through the summer and into fall of 2018.

Tons of marine life died on the west coast of the state, triggering daily “fish kill clean-up” reports on Sanibel Island where dump trucks full of dead fish were removed.

In October 2018, Palm Beach County ocean rescue Captain Rick Welch, left, and lifeguard Russ Gehweiler, right, install newly printed signs warning visitors of the red tide outbreak along A1A, south of Indiantown Road in Jupiter. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Manatee, Goliath grouper, shorebirds and sea turtles all perished in droves that year in areas from Sarasota through Naples.

Can red tide on Florida’s west coast reach the state’s east coast?

Yes. A west coast bloom can reach the east coast if it gets caught in the Gulf of Mexico’s loop current and travels through the Florida Straits into the Gulf Stream – a north-moving river of warm water that skims the Palm Beach County coastline.

Once in the Gulf Stream, waves can force the toxin produced to be dispersed in the air, which can be carried by east winds to the beaches.

Since 1972 when the transport of red tide from the west coast to the east was first identified, seven more instances had been documented prior to 2018, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Those include in 1990, 1997, 1999 and 2006. In 2007, a red-tide bloom near Jacksonville traveled south with a near-shore current.

Reach reporter Kimberly Miller at kmiller@pbpost.com.

Related Posts

It’s true! Crossword Clue

We have the answer for It’s true! crossword clue if you need help figuring out the solution! Crossword puzzles can introduce new words and concepts, while helping…

Activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter Crossword Clue NYT

Activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter Crossword Check Activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter Crossword Clue here, NYT will publish daily crosswords for the day. Players who…

Contraband Police review — The choice is yours

Video contraband police murder mystery I’ve heard a lot of bluster from developers about how choices in their game matter. A lot of the time, players are…

Something that’s cracked and gross Crossword Clue NYT

Something that’s cracked and gross Crossword Check Something that’s cracked and gross Crossword Clue here, NYT will publish daily crosswords for the day. Players who are stuck…

Uses X-ray vision on crossword clue

Posted on December 25, 2022 at 12:00 AM Thank you for visiting our website! Below you will be able to find the answer to Uses X-ray vision…

John Mulaney: My ‘star-studded’ intervention ‘saved my life’

Video people at john mulaney intervention John Mulaney channeled his rock bottom into a new comedy special. The 40-year-old comedian detailed his addiction struggles, time in rehab…