Have You Felt You’ve Been Sick After Being at the Beach Lately? The Red Tide May Be to Blame

By Natalie Soldatova

Florida has been affected by red tide for the last couple of months, and it is still an ongoing issue. With spring break season and tourists coming to Florida for vacation, the red tide is making their trip to the beach less enjoyable, and it’s affecting Florida residents along the coastline. 

The problem with red tide is that it releases toxins that are high enough to cause respiratory problems, including the feeling of burning in our eyes, noses and throats when coming near the beach affected by red tide. 

Red tide is the cause of dead fish that are washed out ashore. During this time it is recommended to stay out of the water and avoid the beach areas affected. 

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the red tide makes local business owners concerned as they believe it may drive tourists away from coming to Florida for vacation. 

I was aware of this because one of our family friends who owns a business for vacation rentals on Anna Maria Island noticed that people are canceling their reservations or leaving Florida earlier than planned. 

Florida does suffer from red tide from time to time, but now it seems like it is getting out of control as it has already lasted for weeks. 

I remember back in December last year, me and my family stayed in our house here in Florida by the beach and just sitting on the beach for five minutes made us cough and sneeze the whole time that we had to go back inside. 

Even just walking outside in that area, not even on the beach irritated my eyes and throat as it was also in the air. It always lasts for a few weeks but this time it does last for so long that people don’t have enough time to clean the beach as more dead fish are still coming. 

According to Max Chesnes of the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s Poison Control Centers received 36 reports of red tide this year. Last year there were only two reports. 

Animals are also affected and are dying because of the red tide. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rescued a lethargic and unresponsive manatee. They believed it was the result of a red tide and was brought to SeaWorld. Many dolphins have also been victims of red tide along with sea turtles and diving birds.

Many people believe that the reason why the red tide is so bad now is still the aftermath of Hurricane Ian that hit Florida in September last year. But according to Michael Parsons, a marine scientist at Florida Gulf Coast University: “We cannot draw a simple line connecting one to the other.”

There are many other factors that could be the reason behind this red tide. That includes rising ocean temperatures and higher levels of carbon dioxide, as well as extreme weather such as heavy rains. 

According to Smithsonian magazine, that could cause more agricultural runoff into the ocean. This runoff is filled with nutrient-dense fertilizers and chemicals that are helping the growth of red tide. 

Red tide is currently detected in five Tampa Bay area counties. According to Tampa Bay FWC the Red tide also called Karenia brevis was found in 172 samples along Florida’s Gulf Coast in the past week. 

Tampa Bay Times reported that Pinellas and Sarasota counties have been hit the hardest with red tide. It has been said that around 1,000 pounds of fish have been cleared from St. Petersburg Beach since the start of March according to Mandy Edmunds, a park supervisor with the city. 

Indian Rocks Beach is having clean-up crews sent to the beach every morning to help the removal of the dead fish. FoxNews mentioned the annual BeachFest that was supposed to be held in Indian Rocks Beach was canceled due to red tide. The festival was sponsored by a homeowner’s association that stated the red tide is likely to remain in the area in the next few upcoming weeks: “It is unfortunate that it had to be canceled, but it is the best decision in the interest of public health.”

The red tide will affect most of the people who will feel the symptoms when visiting the beach. However, some go to the beach despite dead fish laying around and try to just ignore it. Michelle McCauley who is a vacationer from Ohio spoke with the New York post that the beaches do smell but that he is holding up fine. 

But it is not safe for everyone. For example people with respiratory problems and asthma are advised to stay away from the beach all together. The same advice goes to pet owners who should keep their pets away from the dead fish on the beach.

New report from FWC came out on Wednesday night, March 15 that there is finally an improvement in the red tide along the Florida coastline. According to WTSP Tampa Bay news, the wind is supposed to move east and push a lot of respiratory issues off the coast.

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