(WKRG) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reporting low concentrations of red tide in Northwest Florida over the past week.
Karenia brevis was observed at very low concentrations in Escambia County (in one sample), very low concentrations in Okaloosa County (in two samples), background and very low concentrations in Walton County (in two samples), background to low concentrations in Bay County (in four samples), background to low concentrations in Gulf County (in five samples), and background to medium concentrations in Franklin County (in 14 samples).
A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis, often abbreviated as K. brevis.
Many red tides produce toxic chemicals that can affect both marine organisms and humans. The red tide organism in Florida, Karenia brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die. Wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release these toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation. For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness. The red tide toxins can also accumulate in molluscan filter-feeders such as oysters and clams, which can lead to Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning in people who consume contaminated shellfish.FWC