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Goodbye red tide! Much of Big Bend coast free of harmful algal blooms

Goodbye red tide! Much of Big Bend coast free of harmful algal blooms
Posted at 5:52 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 15:49:35-05

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fl. (WTXL) — Red tide made its presence known along coastal areas of the Big Bend in October. Now, it's gone.

"It can also discolor the water. It actually makes it a little bit more of a brownish when it's very dense," said Rick Stumpf, who is a scientist with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

His specialty: predicting harmful algal blooms or red tide. It's a group of algae that floats on the Gulf of Mexico — having significant impacts on life in the ocean and on land.

"Tearing, runny nose. If I'm out on a beach and there's a red tide I feel like I just came down with a cold. I go away from the beach, I feel fine. If someone has asthma though they might have much more severe impacts."

Stumpf said peak red tides happen during fall. Even hurricanes and tropical storms play a role.

"So some of the tropical storms and hurricanes that come up in the central Gulf of Mexico can actually carry the organism up from Southwest Florida."

But it's the northerly winds late in the season that pushes harmful algal blooms well away from the coast.

"They usually show up maybe in September, October, last for a couple of months then dissipate."

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there is one report of very low concentrations of red tide near the Alligator Point Area.