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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Red Tide Blooms

Aquatic Toxins Program


dead fish on beachAs 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
  • Transmission
  • 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.

To see what the red tide conditions are like before going to the beach, visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute Red Tide Conditions Report.

To see if and where red tide is occurring in Florida, please visit Mote Marine's Beach Conditions Report.

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 

Red Tide Rack Cards

Red Tide Rack Card, English

Red Tide Business Card, English

Information on Florida Red Tides and Their Toxins, English

Red Tide Rack Cards in Other Languages

Creole

French

German

Russian

Spanish

Red Tide Business Cards in Other Languages

Creole

French

German

Russian

Spanish

*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF). The free Acrobat Reader may be required to view these files.