Red tide has taken big dip
Red tide levels recently have dropped significantly, but we can’t necessarily wave goodbye to the annoying algae bloom, a scientist said.
“We’re still watching it very closely,” said Meridith Byrd, a marine biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Just as it has started to kind of slow down, things can ramp up if it warms up again. But this (decrease) is definitely good news, and we’re all hopeful we’re starting to see the beginning of the end.”
Byrd emphasized that she wasn’t making any predictions about when the bloom would go away.
As of Tuesday, Dec. 13, red tide levels remained above average throughout the Texas coast south of Galveston Bay. It’s been above average to high for weeks.
Samples taken in the Aransas Pass off the south jetty Tuesday found anywhere from just a few red tide cells to about 65 of them per milliliter of seawater, Byrd said. Normally, not even one red tide cell can be found in a single milliliter of seawater. But the 65 count is far lower than in recent weeks, when hundreds of cells at times have been found in one milliliter.
Byrd said she didn’t know why the counts have dropped over the past week, but she added that a recent cold snap, combined with rain, could have contributed to it. The coast needs more cold and more rain to completely do away with the bloom, she said.
Vapor from red tide has caused folks on the coast mostly minor eye and throat irritation for weeks, on and off.
The red tide also has caused fish kills. But the algae doesn’t make it unsafe to eat freshly caught fish scientists say. If a fish is healthy enough to bite a hook, it’s healthy enough to eat, they say.
The red tide toxin resides in a fish’s guts, not in its muscle, which is the part of the fish that is fileted.
People should prevent their pets from eating dead fish on the beach. If a dog eats a fish killed by red tide, consuming the fish’s guts, it could sicken or kill the dog.