Return of the Florida red tide
made an unwelcome appearance this weekend on Florida's west coast. K. brevis
- or as you may know it, the "red tide" - has been largely absent for the last few years. The readings were low to moderate.
What is the red tide?
NOAA defines the red tide as a "harmful algae bloom" of k. brevis
, though other algae can contribute to a red tide as well.It's difficult to determine what factors influence a red tide: is it lack of predation? Water salinity? Is there a permanent bank of k. brevis
somewhere off the coast that washes toward land?Not all algae is harmful, but k. brevis
can be toxic to marine life, and to the local economy: the FWC estimates that the impact of a red tide in the 1970's was $15-$20 million.The FWC notes that controlling a red tide is difficult. Not only must the organism be killed, but the lasting toxins in the water must be dealt with. Researchers have found ways to control shellfish toxicity but a comprehensive response to red tides has not yet been discovered.
Keep track of the red tide in your area
The FWC notes that the area between Tampa Bay and Sanibel as being high-risk for a k.brevis
algae bloom.The FWRI Red Tide Status Line is now available to callers throughout the state. FWRI updates the recording each Friday by 5 p.m.Red Tide Status Line:Toll-free, inside Florida: 866-300-9399Outside Florida: 727-552-2448Recent reports can be accessed on the FWC web site.
What you can do: Fishing during a red tide
1. Check local regulations to see where it is safe to catch and consume fish and shellfish during a bloom period. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services keeps an updated status on shellfish harvesting. Check it here
2. Some people may experience breathing problems and skin irritation during a red tide. Suit up and wash up carefully if you're out on the water during a bloom. If you have a pre-existing respiratory condition, you may want to put your fishing plans on hold.3. When consuming local finfish during a bloom, fillet it first. Filleting disposes of the gut, where algae congregate and accumulate in affected areas.Don't take our word for it. The Florida Department of Health has excellent resources available to the public to help everyone make informed decisions during a bloom. Get it here