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Red tide blooms arrive on Franklin County coasts

Posted at 1:46 AM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 01:46:44-04

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Fish kills, discolored water and respiratory irritation. Red tide has arrived in Franklin County.

Background to medium concentrations are present currently along the coast, according to the latest finding from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Red tide, known as a harmful algal bloom, is the reason for dead fish and a funny smell on St. George Island.

"Between the dead fish smell and the coughing and sneezing."

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, red tide can kill fish and wildlife like sea turtles at St George Island State Park.

It can cause respiratory irritation in people and pets and those with asthma can get seriously sick.

It is something vacationer Heng Lim said has never happened before in the 10 years they've come to visit but now it's affecting their trip.

"I think it's gotten better, two days ago it was pretty rough," said Lim.

Red tide is a higher than normal concentration of small alga or plantlike organisms. Every year, Southwest Florida gets in on the red tide, but places like the Big Bend don't see it as much, levels usually peak in late summer, fall and winter months.

Simon Hodges, who works at a local business on the island, said he has noticed a difference over the last few days.

"Everybody who was coming was coughing and you could tell something was wrong," said Hodges.

Forecasting the future of red tide is difficult with scientists only being able to make a three to five day prediction based on ocean currents and weather. Hurricanes and tropical storms can move blooms around and onshore winds can make the respiratory illness worse.

Long-term predictions regarding if and when it may come back are also hard to crack. But, it is something that won't stop the Lim family from making the drive from Kentucky.

"First time it has happened in 10 years that we've been here so we'll be back," said Lim.

The Florida Department of Health recommends not to swim around dead fish and to bring pets indoors if you live close to the beach.

The Florida Wildlife Commission also encourages people to report any fish kills and they're also looking for volunteers to take samples to improve the red tide sampling network.