Red tide rolls into coast


staff reports

OKALOOSA COUNTY — Red tide has been detected in coastal waters off Okaloosa County, according to the Aug. 4 Red Tide Report published by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

It was also observed at locations in Lee and Gulf counties, the report said.

In Florida, red tide is caused by a naturally occurring microscopic alga (a plant-like microorganism) called Karenia brevis or K. brevis, according to the Florida Department of Health.

It produces a toxin that can affect the central nervous system of fish, birds, mammals and other animals. In humans, it may affect breathing and cause skin irritation.

Red tide blooms can last days, weeks, or months and can also change daily due to wind conditions and water currents. Onshore winds normally bring it near the shore and offshore winds drive it out to sea, according to FDOH information.