FWC releases video to educate public on red tide blooms

Published: August 29, 2022 4:39 PM EDT
Updated: August 29, 2022 5:59 PM EDT

No one living in Southwest Florida at the time will forget the red tide in 2018.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute created a video on red tide to keep Southwest Florida natives and visitors aware and educated.

Fortunately, it’s not because the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, has recently been spotted along our beaches.

But we are in the time period when red tide historically surfaces.

FWC wants to ensure people know what red tide is, the health risks involved and how it’s monitored.

Red tide is a sight no one wants to see and the smell is even worse.

In 2018, thousands of pounds of dead fish had to be removed from shorelines.

Kathy Frazier, a hostess at the Sunset Beach Tropical Grill on Fort Myers Beach, remembers.

“Oh it was horrible,” Frazier said. “There was nobody around. You couldn’t eat because the disgusting smell that was down here. It was nothing nice.”

Red tide is a type of microscopic algae.

High concentrations of it can cause harmful algal blooms which can last days to years.

Historically, the blooms start during summer or fall when winds and currents direct red tide cell populations together.

The recipe for red tide: sunlight, temperature and salinity. Also, man-made contributions, like nitrogen or phosphorus.

Red tide blooms can cause fish and other marine life to become sick and die.

Wave action can break open Karenia brevis cells and release toxins into the air, which is why you may end up coughing if you’re exposed.

“It was an incident, yeah, it was horrible. I actually got very sick from it and went to the doctor and got put on steroids and medicine,” Frazier said. “It was horrible … I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Red tide affects everyone differently, but it’s especially important for people with respiratory conditions, like asthma, to avoid areas with red tide.

You can check out this map on FWC’s webpage to stay updated on any blooms.