Education Corner – Harmful Algae Bloom (aka Red Tide)


You head to the beach, hoping for some sun and R&R and there’s a funny smell in the air. What’s with all these dead fish? You feel a tingle in your throat. You sneeze. You cough. Your eyes are itchy. Suddenly, you’re not feeling too well. A fun beach day has turned dreary.

Welcome to Harmful Algae Bloom season, aka Red Tide. Red Tide is caused by a dinoflagellate (a type of plankton) called Karenia Brevis. It’s really an all-encompassing term these days, meaning there’s nasty stuff in the water. When there are a lot of them in the water, it turns a weird, almost reddish color. The algae contains toxins. So it kills shellfish, fish, birds that eat fish, and other things that eat birds. So, you don’t want to eat shrimp, oysters or fish caught during a red tide.

Currently, Sanibel/Blind Pass/Captiva really isn’t experiencing red tide. However, just a few miles north of us, it’s getting pretty rough. I’m sure it will be heading our way soon.

If you would like to check out the status of our areas, click the picture below:

You can also check out the Mote Marine Lab for up to the hour (just about) info on our local beaches.

I don’t think I really need to explain this next part, but I will simply because I know when you’re on vacation, the water out here looks so inviting.

Don’t get in the water during red tide.

Better yet, don’t even go to the beach during red tide. It’s nasty. It smells. It’ll make you sick.

So unless you want to do this for a few days:

Stay home. The water will be back to normal in no time and you can enjoy your beach day the way you’re supposed to.



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