- In Florida, red tide is caused by a naturally occurring microscopic alga (a plant-like microorganism) called Karenia brevis or K. brevis.
- The organism produces a toxin that can affect the central nervous systems of fish, birds, mammals, and other animals.
- At high concentrations (called blooms), the organism may discolor the water – sometimes red, light or dark green, or brown.
- Red tides or harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur worldwide. K. brevis is found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico but has been found on the east coast of Florida and off the coast of North Carolina.
- Red tide blooms can last days, weeks, or months and can also change daily due to wind conditions and water currents. Onshore winds normally bring it near the shore and offshore winds drive it out to sea.
- Red tide was first officially recorded in Florida in 1844.
- A red tide bloom needs biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth), and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms). No single factor causes it. Tests are being conducted to see if coastal nutrients enhance or prolong blooms.
- Red tide can irritate the skin and breathing of some people.
- Seafood from restaurants and hotels is monitored and is safe to eat.
- Mote Marine Laboratory publishes updated information on beach conditions, including red tide, twice daily. Visit www.mote.org/beaches.
If you have a question or a health problem related to red tide, please call the Florida Poison Control Information Center at: 1-800-222-1222
Health Info: www.floridahealth.gov
Report Fish Kills: 1-800-636-0511 [FWC]
Red Tide Info & Status Reports: www.myfwc.com/redtide
Red Tide Facts: www.start1.org
Current Beach Conditions: www.mote.org/beaches or call 941-BEACHES (232-2437)