What are Red Tides?
Red tide or HABs (Harmful Algal Bloom) is a phenomenon caused by algal blooms during which colonies of algae multiply so much that they discolor coastal waters (hence the name "red tide") It depletes oxygen in the waters and releases toxins that may cause illness in humans ,marine life, and birds .
Different Species of Algae:
The below are the different species of the algae that can be found in the United States which release these harmful toxins:
- Karenia brevis- found in the Gulf of Mexico along the west coast of Florida
- Alexandrium fundyense- found along the Atlantic coast from the Canadian Maritimes to southern New England
- Alexandrium catenella- found along the Pacific coast from California to Alaska
What Causes Red Tide?
As per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the main factors that cause red tide events include warm ocean surface temperatures, low salinity, high nutrient content, calm seas, and rain followed by sunny days during the summer months . In addition, algae related to red tide can spread or be carried long distances by winds, currents, storms, or ships. Additionally, more nutrients, running into the ocean from excess fertilizer on farms or lawns, can contribute to blooms.
What are the harmful effects of Red Tide?
- The toxins released by the algal bloom, can cause massive fish kills leading to the dead fish washing up on shores by the thousands.
- The death of many marine species, like whalesand sea turtles, have been linked to red tides.
- The toxins can even produce a foam that causes seabirds to lose the waterproofing on their feathers, resulting in their death.
Red tide not only has harmful effects on marine life and the seafood we consume, but it can also impact the air we breathe in. When red tide blooms occur, the algae release toxins into the water, and some of these toxins can become airborne.
These airborne toxins can affect individuals who live in the areas near the coast and those visiting beaches. The toxins released by Karenia Brevis, in the air make breathing difficult and may lead to:
- Adverse pulmonary responses
- Coughing, sneezing, rhinorrhea, and bronchoconstriction
- Shortness of breath
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation
- Asthma attacks
- Studies have found red tide can have a lasting effect on the brain and lungs.
7 Steps to be taken for prevention:
- Avoid the beach if you have known allergies or asthma, have your inhaler at all times ,if you have to step out.
- Avoid swimming during the Red tide
- Do not eat shellfish that may have been contaminated with Red Tide.
- It is important to monitor the levels of toxins in the air during red tide outbreaks
- Pregnant women should stay away from areas affected by Red Tide.
- Dogs and pets should also avoid swimming during Red tide.
- The most effective and easiest method for eradication of both the toxins emitted and the odor from the red tide indoors is by using a high performing Air purifier