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See more local reports on the current redtide outbreak on my weblog

Other creatures to keep a wary eye upon...

red tide photo

Photo courtesy of START

Related Links:

Red Tide FAQ from Texas Parks & Wildlife

Current Status on Red Tides in Texas

Texas Dept. of Health - has some useful information on red tide and public health

START: Solutions To Avoid Red Tide - If you thought that Red Tide was something we just have to live with, you need to visit this page. START - headquartered in FL, is in the process of establishing chapters in other coastal states is looking to establish a presence in Texas. Interested persons should e-mail Rob Haglund

Update 10/14 -

If not completely gone, the current redtide bloom is much diminished and barely noticeable. The latest from the TPWD site:

TPWD flew over the Texas coast from Aransas Bay south yesterday. On the Gulf beach from Port Aransas to Brazos Santiago Pass they observed many anglers and beachgoers. No dead fish or visible red tide was observed in the Gulf of Mexico along this reach.
On the Gulf beach at Boca Chica (from the Rio Grande north to near the Brazos Santiago Pass) there were large concentrations of dead fish with concentrations increasing towards the south end of the beach.

Dead fish were scattered and floating in the lower end of the Lower Laguna Madre from near Stovers Point south to near Laguna Vista. One small patch of visible red tide was seen near the west end of the Queen Isabella Causeway. More dead fish were floating east of Stovers Point. Schools of large red drum were observed swimming along the east shore of the Laguna Madre for much of the Lower Laguna Madre from South Padre Island up to near Port Mansfield. Patches of relatively faint red tide were observed around the Port Mansfield area.

No red tide or dead fish were seen in the Upper Laguna Madre.

Update 9/23/05 -

The good news is that South Padre Island is nowhere near where Rita is predicted to make landfall.

The bad news is that the red tide seems worse today than it has been. A lot of hurricane evacuees are reported to be heading this way; they need to be warned that beach conditions are not so nice at the moment.

The latest from the TPWD site:

Red tide continues to be present in areas of the Lower Laguna Madre, Brazos-Santiago Pass, and the South Padre Island beach. Cell counts of water samples taken yesterday and today continue to show low to moderate concentrations of red tide. Today a South Padre Island guide reported dead fish including puffers and eels floating near Brazos-Santiago Pass and in a line out from Sea Ranch Marina. On South Padre Island beach and in Brazos-Santiago Pass, there are reports of severe irritation from the red tide aerosol. Surfers reported particularly severe symptoms this morning including throat irritation, difficulty inhaling, coughing and sneezing. The surf is rough on the beach and against the jetties, which may be producing more aerosol and making symptoms worse for people in the area. Satellite data analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, indicates that patches of bloom are detectable on satellite images. NOAA predicts that the bloom may move southward this week. NOAA also points out that tropical storms in the Gulf have not broken up red tide blooms in the past, so there is no guarantee that Hurricane Rita will dissipate the south Texas bloom.
Current information about shellfish closures can be obtained by contacting the Seafood and Aquatic Life Group of the Texas Department of State Health Services at (800) 685-0361.

9/15/05 - South Padre Island is currently being affected by a red tide algae bloom. This from the Texas Parks and Wildlife website:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently received reports of fish kills and discolored water in areas of the lower Texas coast. TPWD staff flew over the lower Texas coast on Tuesday, September 13, and observed two patches of discolored water in the Gulf of Mexico about three miles offshore from the Texas coast, one halfway between the mouth of the Rio Grande and Brazos-Santiago Pass and the other about thirteen miles up the coast from South Padre Island. Today scientists at the University of Texas Marine Lab on South Padre Island confirmed red tide in water samples collected off Isla Blanca Park at the south end of the island. Residents of South Padre Island reported respiratory irritation consistent with the presence of red tide aerosol. Dead fish, mostly menhaden with some mullet, lie on the beach at Boca Chica. These fish died earlier in the week, and there does not appear to be an ongoing fish kill at this time. TPWD and others will continue to monitor the situation.
Current information about shellfish closures can be obtained by contacting the Seafood and Aquatic Life Group of the Texas Department of State Health Services at (800) 685-0361.

When a red tide outbreak occurs, this is usually the first question:

Should I consider postponing a trip to the coast right now?

Dave Buzan, head of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Kills and Spills Team, had this to say on the subject... "If it were my family heading to the coast, I would not cancel a vacation because of red tide. It's an isolated, patchy phenomenon that does not blanket every stretch of beach. On any given day, there are generally miles of good beach and clean water for beach-goers and anglers to enjoy. However, we encourage all travelers to heed the advice of the Texas Department of Health, get the current facts and draw their own conclusions, since different people have different comfort levels with these kinds of situations."

Older folks, small children and people with a history of respiratory problems may want to keep updated on the status of current bloom before making/altering travel plans.

When people think of dangerous sea creatures, "shark" usually comes to mind. However, it has been a very long time indeed since anyone got bit by one in these waters. Smart local swimmers pay much closer attention to the jellyfish and stingray populations and mating seasons. Problems with these creatures are not common, but it is a good idea to know what to watch for and the best course of action to take should you have an unfortunate encounter with one. This info is provided by the SPI Tourist Bureau.

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