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Is there red tide anywhere in Florida right now? What you need to know as the spring break season starts

The spring break season has officially kicked off in Florida, with cities declaring that they have broken away from the rowdy crowds and several ordinances have been put in place to calm the usual chaos on the coast.

Some vacationers may worry that an unexpected visitor will ruin their expected beach vacation: red tide.

What is red tide?

Karenia brevis is a naturally occurring, single-celled organism that belongs to a group of algae called dinoflagellates. Large concentrations can turn water red to brown, causing flowers to be called “red tides.”

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Has red tide been observed in Florida?

According to USA Today’s database, no red tide has been observed in Florida since March 5.

Is red tide harmful to humans?

Yes it can be.

K. brevis produces brevetoxins that can kill fish, birds and other marine animals. It can also cause health problems in people, especially those with breathing problems.

Is it safe to swim or walk on the beach during red tide?

The red tide has subsided over the past week after high concentrations and fish kills were observed several weeks ago.  It has also been six months since Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida.  Images of Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach on Monday and Tuesday of March 27 and 28.

The red tide has subsided over the past week after high concentrations and fish kills were observed several weeks ago. It has also been six months since Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida. Images of Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach on Monday and Tuesday of March 27 and 28.

Most people can still swim in red tide, but this can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. If your skin gets irritated easily, avoid red water.

If you experience irritation while swimming, go outside immediately and wash off thoroughly. Do not swim among dead fish as these may be associated with harmful bacteria.

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For those wondering whether their beach rolls will also be affected by red tides, you may experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation, especially if the wind blows offshore.

What are the symptoms of red tide?

Some people experience respiratory irritation when the red tide organism is present and the wind blows onshore. According to the Florida Department of Health, symptoms of inhaling red tide toxins are temporary and usually include:

  • Cough

  • To sneeze

  • Watery eyes

FDOH officials also advise people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, to avoid areas with red tide.

Florida Today also notes that people who eat shellfish infected with red tide may experience gastrointenstinal and neurological problems, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, muscle pain, tingling in the tongue, lips, throat and extremities. Symptoms usually appear within a few hours of eating contaminated shellfish and disappear within a few days.

Which months are the worst for red tide? How long does red tide usually last in Florida?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that K. brevis blooms in the Gulf of Mexico almost every year, usually in late summer or early fall. They noted that it is most common along “the central and southwestern coast of Florida, between Clearwater and Sanibel Island, but can occur anywhere in the Gulf.”

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Red tide blooms can last for days, weeks or months and can also change daily due to wind conditions and ocean currents.

How to report red tide

To report symptoms of Florida red tide or a water toxin, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a poison specialist immediately.

To report fish kills to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, call 800-636-0511.

No red tide at the moment. Check out beach water quality throughout Florida:

Although no red tide has been observed in Florida, you can still check the overall water quality before heading out on your beach day. As of March 5, water quality across the state is considered “good” according to the key.

When does spring break usually start in Florida?

Spring break typically takes place from early March to early April, but each college, university, and county school district has its own schedule.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Red tide in Florida: Has it been spotted since spring break started?

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