Red Tide Kills Fish, Closes Oyster Season on Gulf Coast

Red-tide-Florida - Red tide kills fish

The Gulf of Mexico annual red tide kills fish, ruins the harvesting of oysters and causes respiratory problems for people. It does other damage to the environment, as well, as you can see in the photo above. (https://twitter.com/weatherchannel/status/675420542753742848)

An algae bloom known as a “red tide” has prompted the closing of beaches in Mississippi and forced the shutdown of oyster harvesting there and in Louisiana.  Unfortunately, a red tide kills fish and can endanger sea mammals. There are also serious concerns about respiratory problems for humans.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a red tide can be defined as a harmful algae bloom or HAB.  They occur when colonies of algae grow out of control and become toxic to people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.  The red tide kills fish and, in rare cases, can kill people or make them extremely ill, especially those with respiratory problems, because the tides can make the air very difficult to breathe.  The toxins can also make shellfish dangerous to eat, which is another way they can affect the health of humans, sea mammals and birds.

Red tides, or HABs, occur virtually every summer along the Gulf Coast of Florida.  They often turn the water a brownish red, which is why they are known as red tides.  They are also known to have occur, with less frequency, in the water along every U.S. coastal state.  The current red tide, however, is occurring during the winter months, which happens less frequently.

Scientists believe that red tides are occurring more often.  They suspect this is because fertilizer from homes and farms gets washed eventually into the ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.  The fertilizer causes the algae to bloom more than it might otherwise.  In addition to the problem that the red tide kills fish and hurts the environment, it can also damage local economies that are dependent on fishing and tourism.  When the oyster industry is closed down, people lose jobs.  When tourists avoid the beaches, hotels and restaurants are hurt.

You can see in the map below the locations of the red tide in December, 2015.

Sources:

http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/science/article/Red-Tide-closes-oyster-areas-prompts-Gulf-6692678.php

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/redtide.html

#RedTide #FishKill


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