Recent Red Tide Surges: Causes and Solutions

Jonathan Cao, Staff Writer

Have you ever wondered why you left the beach after a nice, sunny day only to come home with a terrible cough? That cough is caused by red tide, a phenomenon that occurs when a population of phytoplankton known as Karenia Brevis grows to a high concentration or ‘blooms,’ which makes the water of the ocean a red color. 

These blooms can be caused by rising temperatures of the ocean, which also lengthen the duration of the bloom and spread Karenia Brevis over broader areas. Red tide and climate change have a mini connection as well. According to WUSF Public Media, “more intense rainfall is one way climate change could affect Red Tide” and how “more rain coming in heavy storms could worsen the runoff problem and supply Red Tide with more nutrients.”

Recently, there has been a surge of red tide on the southwest coast of Florida. From Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties. People try to avoid red tide exposure, since it can cause irritation to the throat, eyes, and nose. Many other people that could get any symptoms of the exposure to red tide could also be from eating any seafood that was also exposed to the harmful algae.


It is also recently found that the gasses that red tides give off such as neurotoxin, like brevetoxin, could have neurological effects on people. There have also been many reports of dead fish all around the southwest coast as well.

In Florida many people are focusing their attention on trying to study the algae that are being released into the ocean causing red tides.  Some south Florida counties such as Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee, are helping with the “Roskamp Study.” There are many problems that red tides give. Such as economic losses, environmental problems, and everyday life. Money could be lost due to the amount of fish dying from the toxic algae.  

There are scientists that are researching ways technology can provide help to go against the red tide. Scientists are trying to figure out many solutions and are using modern technology to fix or decrease this problem. This system is called the “Ozone Treatment System.” What the system does is act like a filter for the red tide. According to CBS, the system “breaks down toxin-infested water, injects it with ozone and then pumps out clean water.”


This could decrease the amount of damage that the red tides could give to these areas. This would be a lot harder and difficult since it would cost a lot more. An organization called Mote Marine Laboratory is already starting on this system and is testing it at Boca Grande using 2 of the ozone systems in the canals.

So next time you decide to soak up the sun on one of south Florida’s beaches, make sure that there is no red tide present, or else you’ll be coughing for a few days afterward.