View Full Version : red tide-do you swim in it?

June 1st, 2005, 01:25 AM
We're having another plankton bloom here. FOr the last 2 weeks I've been saying the water tastes like red tide and getting wierd looks-well now its here. I don't like swimming in it-it makes my eyes and throat burn. Also I once got tangled in a large bat ray I didn't see in all the murk. I will proabably keep swimming in it anyway (beats the pool). Does anyone have tips for the burning eyes and throat?

Sabretooth Tiger
June 1st, 2005, 01:53 PM
Here is an article from the Voice of America:

Red Tides

31 January 2005

Iím Phoebe Zimmermann with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Different events can change the balance of sea life. Red tides are an example. These can happen in oceans, rivers or lakes anywhere in the world. What happens is that algae suddenly increase in numbers. Algae are single-celled organisms. They are a normal part of sea life.

As they spread, or bloom, the water may turn red or brown. Sometimes the water does not change color at all. But deadly algae could still be present.

Some kinds of algae produce a strong poison. This can build up in shellfish that eat the algae and make them poisonous, but not kill them. Other kinds of algae may kill sea life by reducing oxygen levels in the water. In some red tides, thousands of dead fish appear on beaches.

Scientists do not know exactly why red tides happen. But they say a combination of conditions all play a part. These include water temperature, nutrients in the water and water flow. Pollution could also play a part.

A number of different algae can cause red tides. A common form has the scientific name Karenia brevis. It is often linked with red tides in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean area.

Algae poisons build up in the tissue of shellfish like clams, oysters and mussels. This makes them unsafe for several weeks after a red tide goes away.

People are also advised not to eat the organs of fish or shellfish like shrimp, crab or lobster. Scientist Richard Pierce says the poison produced by K. brevis does enter the meat of these creatures. But he adds that there have been no reports of people getting sick from eating healthy fish during such a red tide. Mister Pierce is director of the Center for Eco-toxicology at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida.

There are different kinds of shellfish poisoning, some more severe than others. Effects can include diarrhea, fever, stomach and muscle pain, and breathing problems. In severe cases people can die unless they receive treatment.

Experts say older people are especially likely to experience severe effects from algae poisons.

Some people who swim during a red tide report skin problems or shortness of breath. Scientists have more to learn about the possible risks of swimming in red tides or breathing algae poisons in the air.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter. I'm Phoebe Zimmermann.

I surf and do open water swimming in Southern California. For what it's worth, I won't go out in red tide, choosing to wait until the bloom passes. But that's just me.

carl botterud

Sabretooth Tiger
June 1st, 2005, 02:02 PM
Here is an excerpt the Surfrider Foundation which, I believe, originates from a NY Times article:

Horrific, Lingering Red Tide Plagues Southwest Florida

Since about Christmas, a terrible, intense, red tide has plagued the coatal waters of southwest Florida. This year's red tide appears to be worse and longer in duration than any previous red tides in memory. In addition to fish kills, the red tide is also causing health problems for people living near the coast -- among other things, the red tide releases a neurotoxin into the air. "It's incredible how many people have been coming through the door with cough, congestion, irritation, eustachian tube congestion, that is caused or exacerbated by red tide," said Dr. Michael Patete, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Venice, FL. More info at the New York Times article, free registration required.

I have to think that words like "neurotoxin" along with "cough, congestion, irritation, eustachian tube congestion" should be fair warning that swimming in the red tide is not a good idea. But then again, I stay out of the water for three days after a rain as well. I guess it just depends on how badly you want to get in the ocean and what risks, consequences you are willing to absorb.


Tom Ellison
June 1st, 2005, 02:11 PM
I grew up (well kinda) in S. Florida...and...we used to drive over to Naples, FL to shark fish and snook fish off the long Naples pier while in high school. Three or four times they halted fishing due to red tides so we went swimming instead. Huge mistake, for MOST of us got ear infections and the cough....Hundrends of dead fish washed up on the beach during red tides...

June 1st, 2005, 02:22 PM
where do you swim?

Tom Ellison
June 1st, 2005, 02:24 PM
Who are you asking that question to kenznmeg?

June 2nd, 2005, 10:16 PM
Where I live, Red Tide is a BIG Problem.
When I immigrated, I had no idea of what "Red Tide" was. I couldn't resist taking a paring knife and schuking oysters clean, just as I did with Dad, fresh from the rocks.. (Dad took me as I didn't like fresh oysters so all mine made it too the bag!!).
I was horrified to learn that on this particular 'teaching session' (how to shuck an oyster, and taste it if you will sesssion)' could have proven to be so deadly. In the Southern Hemishpere, where I grew up, Red Tide was unheard of so I was oblivious to this deadly problem.
When using the ferries,(ocean ferries ) Red Tide can be plainly seen. It is not a pretty sight.
It is one of the reasons why I don't usually do Ocean Swims.
After watching from the bow of the ferry, and seeing the 'red scum' wallowing and waving' my desire to immerse myself in the ocean dissapates quickly.
I admire those who do take on the mighty ocean.


June 10th, 2005, 08:51 PM
Right now on the news there is a story on red tide here in southern California. It is killing seals in Long Beach and they say if you eat fish that have eaten the algae it can make you sick. They also advised to never swim in it.

June 11th, 2005, 04:42 PM
SO here everyone seems to say no to siwmming in red tide. Out on the beahces swimmers keep saying "no problem, I've done it for years" maybe the swims adled their judgement! The red tide has cleared in my part of So Cal but we hear its headed back...

I also have disocvered theres more than 1 type of red tide organism, the ones in Florida seem to be more toxic than ours. In a few weeks I'm headed to the NE to see the red tide there! I see the departments of tourism are insisting its safe to siwm in their water. Any one out there siwming in it want to report?

A small sea lion or seal (I didn't stop to look carefully although it was only a few feet away) recently tried to climb onto my swim partner. The lifeguards thought it was a mating attempt but it amy have been a red tide issue too. I thought it mistook him (in yellow shirt, hat and fins) for a buoy!