NOAA Forecast for Red Tide in Florida

Regional harmful algal bloom forecasts available for coastal community, public health managers.

A harmful algal bloom (HAB) of Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organism, has been detected within some coastal areas of southwest Florida. During a HAB event, NOAA issues twice weekly bulletins to monitor bloom conditions and the potential for impacts.

NOAA issues Red Tide forecasts for Florida to help local residents and visitors continue to enjoy activities in areas that are temporarily affected by a bloom by making informed decisions about their recreational choices. The forecasts also aid public health managers who coordinate response efforts and mitigate the effects of red tide.

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illustration of redtide

Sometimes Tiny Algae Can Cause Big Problems

Harmful algal blooms occur nearly every summer along the nation's coasts. Often, the blooms turn the water a deep red. While many people call all such events "red tides," scientists prefer the term harmful algal bloom. | Transcript

What is Red Tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is the rapid growth of microscopic algae. Some produce toxins that have harmful effects on people, fish, marine mammals, and birds.  In Florida and Texas, this is primarily caused by the harmful algae species, Karenia brevis. It can result in varying levels of eye and respiratory irritation for people, which may be more severe for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions (such as asthma). The blooms can also cause large fish kills and discolored water along the coast.

How Does the NOAA Forecast Work?

NOAA uses a combination of satellite imagery and water samples of the algae species Karenia brevis collected from the field by local partners, to forecast the location and intensity of red tide events.  Satellite imagery is a key tool for detecting blooms before they reach the coast, verifying bloom movement, and forecasting potential respiratory irritation.

Putting the Forecast into Action

The conditions reports for red tide in Florida and Texas are available to the public and give the daily level of respiratory irritation forecasts by coastal region. NOAA also issues HAB bulletins that contain an analysis of ocean color satellite imagery, field observations, models, public health reports, and buoy data. The bulletins also contain forecasts of potential Karenia brevis bloom transport, intensification and associated respiratory irritation based on the analysis of information from partners and data providers. These bulletins are primarily issued to public health managers, natural resource managers, and scientists interested in HABs.  A week after the HAB bulletin is issued; it's posted to the Bulletin Archive where the public can access it.  Resource managers and decision makers can request a bulletin subscription online.

Infographic Transcript: Red Tide

Red Tide in Florida and Texas is caused by the rapid growth of a microscopic algae called Karenia brevis. When large amounts of this algae are present, it can cause a harmful algal bloom (HAB) that can be seen from space. NOAA issues HAB forecasts based on satellite imagery and cell counts of Karenia brevis collected in the field and analyzed by NOAA partners.

Why should you care? Red Tide in Florida and Texas produces a toxin that can have harmful effects for marine life. For people, the toxin can become airborne and cause respiratory issues and eye irritation. These symptoms can be more severe for people with serious respiratory issues such as asthma.

Making Choices. State and local resources are available to help beachgoers find beaches and coastal areas that are not impacted by Red Tide, but are still nearby.

NOAA forecasts can save your beach day: By paying attention to NOAA’s HAB forecasts, beachgoers can still have a good time along the Florida and Texas coast! The conditions report for Red Tide in Florida and Texas can be found online.

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Did you know?

Less than one percent of algal blooms actually produce toxins. Not all algal blooms are harmful, some can actually be beneficial. Phytoplankton are found at the base of the marine food chain, therefore all other life in the ocean relies on phytoplankton. Blooms can also be a good indicator of environmental change not only in the water, but also on land.


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