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The Red Tide: What to Know Before Your Vacation

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

PLEASE NOTE: - The RED TIDE IS NOT in the 30a / Destin area at this time. It doesn't appear to be coming our way.

MOST RECENT REPORT FROM FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE SAYS:

Current Conditions

Over the past week, the red tide organism Karenia brevis was detected in 123 samples from and offshore of Southwest Florida. Bloom concentrations (>100,000 cells/liter) were present in 79 samples from Southwest Florida: 26 in and offshore of Pinellas County, eight in Manatee County, 27 in Sarasota County, five in Charlotte County, four in Lee County, eight in Collier County, and one offshore of Monroe County. We continue to use satellite imagery (USF and NOAA NCCOS) to help track this patchy event. Additional details are provided below.

  • In Southwest Florida over the past week, brevis was observed at very low to high concentrations in and offshore of Pinellas County, low to high concentrations in Manatee County, very low to high concentrations in Sarasota County, background to high concentrations in Charlotte County, background to high concentrations in Lee County, low to high concentrations in Collier County, and very low to medium concentrations offshore of Monroe County.

  • In Northwest Florida over the past week, brevis was not observed.

  • Along the Florida East Coast over the past week, brevis was not observed.


We've all heard of the dread "Red Tide". The term bounces around beach forums like a red dodge ball, leaving confusion in it's wake. What is it? Why is it a concern? When and where is it an issue? And how can I ensure it doesn't ruin my trip to Destin? So let's talk about it!


Starting at the most base-level of inquiries, what is the Red Tide? Red Tide at the most basic definition is a bloom, or burst, of algae at such a large level that is has environmental impact.

June Grass is also an algae bloom, but it is known to be safe and actually beneficial to the environment. So why is the Red Tide bad?


Karenia brevis. This microscopic algae releases toxins which, in small doses, aren't normally noticeable. It's when there are massive blooms, visible even from space, that animals and humans alike begin to suffer. In fact, the toxins can rise to such an insufferable level that dolphins, turtles, and manatees can be overcome and even die! Even fish are affected, adopting erratic behavior, leading to paralysis it extreme cases.


For 2023, the Red Tide has yet to be detected along the Emerald Coast, while Southwest Florida has already had mild to severe cases of the bloom. Normally, karenia brevis appears in the fall, but has chosen to come early this year. The USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides expects a southeastern transport of subsurface waters to occur in the next 3.5 days, which will affect where the Red Tide is restricted to.


So what does this mean for your upcoming vacation? The presence of Red Tide does not indicate a failed trip to the beach. For most beach goers with no history of respiratory health issues, exposure to the bloom can result in cold-like symptoms and eye irritation. While we wouldn't encourage you to risk such symptoms, for the die hard beach lover these might be worth a splash in the surf. However, if you have a history of respiratory concerns, it's best you avoid the water as it can trigger a respiratory response upon exposure. If the concentration becomes too much, beach officials will close down areas where toxins are at a dangerous level.


While all of this may leave you more confused than before, a brief summary may have you feeling a bit more at ease. While Red Tide is toxic, it's usually not dangerously toxic to humans. If levels become too high, beach authorities will make sure you don't accidentally encounter the algae. However, at the moment you don't have to worry about it at all if you are vacationing along Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, Miramar Beach, Destin, and Santa Rosa Beach, since the bloom hasn't made it's way north.


In closing, because the Red Tide can migrate, it's best to check in with a trusted authority to know where it currently is affecting. Here is a link to the Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission's page specifically dedicated to updating the public as to the location and intensity of the Red Tide. As long as you track the algae's activity and respect local officials, your vacation is well on it's way to being great, no matter what nature throws your way!


Make sure to check out 30a Pontoon Rental and 30a Yacht Charter.


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