The Red Tide Exposed - Plan Your Fishing Trips Accordingly
Florida recreational fishermen are currently experiencing some hard times in the Tampa Bay area due to the Red Tide rolling in. We've had several of our customers express concern about the issue, so we are dedicating this weeks blog to exposing the facts behind the red tide as well as the key ingredients required for the next Red Tide that could come into your area.
The Red Tide is a common worldwide phenomenon that can put a severe damper on a planned vacation or saltwater fishing trip. Not all Red Tides are toxic, but the vast majority of them will result in dead aquatic life washing up to shore and humans with allergy and respiratory problems. It typically occurs annually, at the peak of the summer heat, and can last for days at a time with rare occurrences lasting several weeks to a month with ideal conditions. The actual cause of the Red Tide is an algal bloom containing several types of phytoplankton and dinoflagellates which contain photosynthetic pigments that vary in color from brown to red. Another words, the Red Tide is not always red, it can make the water appear overly murky.
Where does the Red Tide Occur?
The Red Tide commonly occurs in oceans, bays, and brackish water areas where freshwater meets saltwater. The algal bloom will usually occur offshore first at extreme depths and then work its way inward to the bays. It does not survive well in freshwater environments, hence the reason we never see it in freshwater lakes and rivers.
What are some key ingredients to the Red Tide?
1 - Water Temperature: 72 - 82 degrees Fahrenheit
2 - Salinity: 31-37%
3 - Ideal nutrients in water can help the algal bloom thrive for prolonged periods of time
4 - Lots of sunlight
5 - Wind: Onshore winds can bring it into the shore while Offshore winds can drive it out to sea.
6 - Currents: similar to wind, onshore currents can keep the algal bloom in the bays while offshore currents can send it back into the ocean.
7 - Depleted oxygen levels
**Red Tide typically starts at extreme depths offshore and works its way to the bay areas.
Can we predict Red Tides?
Unfortunately, we are unable to currently predict when and where Red Tides will occur. Scientists constantly gather data and monitor water conditions to understand when the opportunity for a Red Tide is the highest, but the only way they can consistently predict an incoming Red Tide is when it shows up in samples they collect.
How does the Red Tide effect humans?
When the Red Tide algal bloom rides waves and crashes into the beaches, the brevetoxins are released into the air and act as a toxic irritant to humans. The toxins can cause allergies and respiratory complications that are not usually fatal but can be troublesome to deal with. When swimming in the Red Tide, it can act as a skin irritant, it is not recommended for anyone to expose themselves to the Red Tide. If the Red Tide occurs during your vacation, we recommend finding another beach or island nearby that has not been affected.
How does the Red Tide effect aquatic life?
The Red Tide is a colloquial term that is scientifically known as a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB). The algal bloom typically occurs for days at a time but can leave fish and other aquatic life dead, washing up to the shore for weeks following the occurrence of the actual bloom. The Red Tide is very harmful to the aquatic life.
Can you consume fish taken during the Red Tide?
We do not recommend taking the risk of eating fish, shellfish, or mollusks harvested during a red tide. However, there are regulations set in place for commercial fishermen who make a living harvesting these fish. Commercial fishermen are not legally allowed to harvest shellfish or mollusks during the Red Tide season, because they contain toxins which humans can ingest and result in food poisoning.
Fin fish such as redfish, trout, flounder, etc. will have toxins gathered in their guts and the toxins to not appear to contaminate the fish fillet. Thus, as long as the fish fillets are thoroughly washed and the guts are disposed of, the likelihood of food poisoning is significantly lowered.
Crustaceans such as lobster, shrimp, and crabs should be thoroughly washed prior to consumption to reduce the likelihood of food poisoning.
Regardless of fish type, we do not recommend harvesting dead or distressed fish.
**Note: cooking and freezing does not destroy the Red Tide toxin, the toxin cannot be seen or tasted.
What do you do while waiting for the Red Tide to pass?
This is a good time to make repairs to your boat and supplementary equipment. Use this time to set up some flounder gigging / bowfishing lights or rigging up one of our new strong, corrosion resistant, and SHARP flounder gigs!
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