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Things You Should Know about Florida’s Red Tide

by | Sep 25, 2018 | Live Like a Local, Safety is Sexy

This summer’s red tide in Southwest Florida has alarmed thousands along the coast, and for good reason. Red tide is a form of harmful algal bloom that causes respiratory problems in humans and kills marine life. The peak of concern came when Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a state of emergency last month. The issue included a $1.3 million allocation for clean-up and animal rescue efforts, laboratory research, and a grant program to assist affected communities in retaining tourism.

Some residual fear remains in the wake of the bloom. Florida doctors are seeing more patient visits associated with breathing troubles, locals are noticing that there are fewer tourists on beaches, and the image of dead fish and manatees remains in the public’s mind.

How you choose to manage your health and safety is 100% up to you. Though RaftUp is all about being on the water, we hold safety as a top priority. We want to help you make an informed decision about enjoying your outdoors. To do so, we’ve compiled some things you should know about the Southwest Florida red tide.

1: You can still visit Southwest Florida Beaches

Young man and Young woman walking towards the camera and smiling on the beach in clearwater florida
With some preparation, visiting the beach in Southwest Florida is just as safe and pleasant as always. Mote Marine Laboratory, a marine research institute, offers a beach conditions report that lets you check the presence of red tide at a beach before you visit. They also report that fewer red tide toxins will be in the air with offshore winds.

In the event that you visit a beach and experience respiratory irritation, wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth to protect yourself from breathing in red tide toxins.

2: Red Tide is subsiding in many areas

The 2018 red tide bloom has been especially tenacious, but there has been a noticeable decline of red tide in many areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers a weekly red tide status update. It shows the change in red tide levels over a week and allows you an understanding of how red tide is affecting your area or destination in longer terms.

3: You can do your part to prevent red tide

Little tiny plants growing out of planters
There is a lot to learn about how human behavior affects the spread of red tide. What we do know is that the algae that causes red tide can feed on nutrients that humans deliver into the water. Even if pollution is not the only cause of red tide, Mote Marine Laboratory suggests that minimizing fertilizer use can reduce the amount of nutrients in stormwater runoff.
There are always risks associated with outdoor and water recreation. When a risk as pervasive as red tide presents itself, it’s easy to fall into the panic and excitement. Don’t let pandemonium stop you from participating in your outdoor community. Hazards are always there, but using available resources can help you stay safe while enjoying yourself in your environment.

RESOURCES

SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL – HOW TO PROTECT WATERSHEDS

MOTE MARINE LAB & AQUARIUM – BEACH CONDITIONS REPORT SYSTEM

FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION – WEEKLY RED TIDE STATUS UPDATE

MOTE MARINE LAB & AQUARIUM – RED TIDE Q&A

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