What Is a Red Tide?

December 6, 2018

The ocean is filled with countless forms of algae that use the energy from the sun to provide fuel for ocean wildlife. However, when these algae receive too many nutrients, they can multiply and grow out of control, creating a situation that could potentially be harmful for all the wildlife, as well as for beachgoers and swimmers.

Rivers near grasslands and forests receive nutrients that fertilize the waters that eventually flow into the ocean. This fertilized water supplies algae with nutrients that can cause them to grow quickly into a harmful algal bloom, known as a red tide. Karenia brevis is one form of algae that is common in the Gulf of Mexico, and can be spotted by the dark red tint that it spreads in the ocean. Strong ocean winds can push a red tide towards the shore, causing problems for both the wildlife and beachgoers in the area, as well as for fishing charters in Sarasota, FL.

Because algae are always present in the ocean, red tide is a natural occurrence, although climate change and pollution could be playing a role in red tide’s increased presence in recent years. Red tide is seasonal, and usually sees a peak towards the end of the summer.

The effects of red tide

Since red tides can make the ocean temporarily toxic and can deplete the water of dissolved oxygen, they can be very dangerous for all the different species that call the ocean home. When these algae eventually die off, the bacteria and microbes in the water feast on them, which will in turn deplete even more oxygen from the ocean. That means that fish will have very little oxygen left to survive underwater, which is why dead fish washing up on the shore or floating on the ocean’s surface is a common indicator of a red tide.

Red tide can be harmful for humans as well, which is why beaches are closed during times of high red tide. In addition to the unsavory smell of the fish that may wash up on shore, if anyone were to swim in the waters, they could become very ill and suffer from respiratory troubles. Even for those who don’t get in the water, eating shellfish that have ingested these toxins can cause serious illness that requires medical attention.

Although red tide has been a cause of concern in the past, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced that the conditions in Sarasota County have improved dramatically over the last month, and the red tide cell count has continued to fall. As a result, the air is clearing up, and beaches are now open. That means that you can confidently and safely hire a fishing charter in Sarasota, FL for an exciting day out on the water with your family and friends.

Here at Charter Boat Shark, it is our mission to provide you with a fishing adventure that is safe and enjoyable for all. To learn more about our excursions and charters, give us a call today!

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