Red Tide Blooms
As red tide blooms approach coastal areas, breaking waves can cause their toxins to become mixed with airborne sea spray. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose, and throat irritation. When a person leaves an area with a red tide, symptoms usually go away. People with severe or chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic lung disease are cautioned to avoid areas with active red tides.
- Respiratory and Skin Irritation
- Information about Beach Conditions
- Additional Information
One of the most frequent symptoms people experience during a Florida red tide is respiratory irritation. If you have ever visited a beach during a red tide, you may have experienced the "red tide tickle" which can include itchy throat and coughing. Brevetoxins, chemicals produced by Florida red tide, may also irritate pre-existing respiratory conditions including asthma. Persons with asthma are advised to bring their inhaler to the beach during a red tide or avoid the area until conditions improve. Some swimmers experience skin irritation and rashes after swimming in waters with a severe red tide. They have also reported eye irritation from the sea foam. In some red tides, dead fish wash ashore; during these conditions it is advised that beachgoers avoid swimming in water where dead fish are present.
Shellfish like clams, oysters, and coquinas that are harvested from areas with active red tides should not be eaten. These shellfish are filter feeders that can concentrate the toxins. Scallops can be consumed if only the scallop muscle is eaten. Scallop stew, using the whole animal including guts, should not be eaten. Seafood, also commonly called shellfish such as crabs, shrimp, and lobster can be eaten because they do not concentrate the toxin.
The location of current red tide events within Florida coastal waters as well as links to more detailed information about red tide organisms can be found on the Fish and Wildlife Research lnstitute (formerly the Florida Marine Research Institute) home page. For more information on red tide and beach conditions in Sarasota County, visit: Our Gulf Environment
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