Red tide is all over the news in Southwest Florida. The reason people come to Florida is to enjoy the wonderful weather and amazing beaches. This summer red tide has been worse than years in the past. What is red tide anyway? Is it dangerous and how does it affect your visit?
What Is Red Tide?
Lets get the technical out of the way. Red tide is a phenomenon known as an algal bloom or large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms. The reason it is called red tide is due to the color of the phytoplankton which makes the water look a rust to red color. Red tide isn’t actually unusual in Florida, just about every year it appears along the coast. Some years it can be worse than other, with scientists trying to figure out exactly why. Since there appears to be a correlation between fertilizers and outbreaks, many people in Southwest Florida blame the releases from lake Okeechobee.
How Bad Is Red Tide?
This year unfortunately the outbreak is one of the worst on record. Red tide has been responsible for a fish kill in the millions and dangerous conditions for beach visitors. Many of the beaches and coastal waterways are affected. Upon arriving at the beach people may cough, have itchy eyes and runny nose because the toxins are aerosolized. Its easy to understand that fish would be directly affected since the outbreak occurs in the water. However, all animals that are around the water are in danger. Even birds that may eat infected mollusks, fish or are in danger of getting sick or dying. People so far have not died from exposure, but the long term affects are not all know. Likewise for people, like birds, they can be infected by eating infected fish, shellfish and other seafood.
While its devastating for us to see so many animals affected this year, we want to make sure we keep all of you informed. So many of our visitors each year arrive from other parts of the world looking forward to their vacation here in Florida. If you are coming here this year, please check our website social media accounts for updates on the situation. While we would love to have you as our guest, we most importantly want our visitors to be safe.