Code RED

Where To Swim Free of Red Tide

For several weeks the news has been focused on the affects of Red Tide on businesses, but what about us humans?

WHAT IS RED TIDE? Red tide is a phenomenon caused by algal blooms (Wikipedia definition) during which algae become so numerous that they discolor coastal waters (hence the name “red tide”). The algal bloom may also deplete oxygen in the waters and/or release toxins that may cause illness in humans and other animals.

As a precaution, health officials recommend the following:

  • Wear shoes when walking on the sand. This will help prevent puncture wounds from the spines or bones of dead fish.
  • Most people can swim in red tide, but it can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. If your skin is easily irritated, avoid red tide water. If you do swim, thoroughly wash off with fresh water when you get out. Do not swim near dead fish.
  • Symptoms from breathing red tide toxins usually include coughing, sneezing and teary eyes. For most people, symptoms are temporary when red tide toxins are in the air. However, wearing a particle filter mask may lessen the effects, and over-the-counter antihistamines may decrease symptoms. Check the marine forecast. Fewer toxins are in the air when the wind is blowing offshore.
  • People with chronic respiratory problems like asthma should avoid red tide areas. People with symptoms that persist should seek medical attention.
  • Residents living in beach areas affected by red tide should close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure that the filter is maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications).
  • Recreational fishermen:
    • Do not eat mollusks (clams or oysters) taken from red tide waters, as they contain toxins that cause a food poisoning
    • Use common sense: harvesting distressed or dead animals is not advised under any circumstances. Edible parts of other animals (crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters) are not affected by red tide and can be eaten.
  • Pet owners: red tide poses a risk to animals brought to the beach and can affect those that ingest the algae. Be sure to rinse animals off with freshwater if they swim in red tide waters.


Is There A Safe Place To Swim With No Fear of Red Tide?

YES…..See you at the Pool!


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Pam Batey

Moved to Tanglewood in August 2016, with husband, Steve and dog, Maggie. Retired Paramedic, now continuing my hobby writing short stories and information in the "You and Your Health" Section of the newsletter. Active Member of Tanglewood Community Church.