Is the red tide a current threat to Taylor County waters?
The most accurate short answer is perhaps no. Red tide is a phenomenon caused by the blooming of toxic microalgae known as Karenia brevis. Which not only accumulates in filter-feeding organisms’ tissue but also when in high concentrations, might block fish gills reducing their breathing capabilities causing fish kills.
Why would people think so
This microalgae occurs naturally in our coastal waters but in very low concentrations, not representing a threat to the recreational fishing industry in the Nature Coast / Big Bend region. However, people have reported sighting of fish kills by the mouth of the Suwannee River. It is important to remember that the coastal predominant current flows from North to South (from the Big Bend region to the South). This means it is very unlikely that any red tide event in the Suwannee River area might directly affect the coastal waters North of Dixie County and Taylor County. However, environmental conditions like wind and currents are dynamic and changing constantly so we all must keep an eye on the conditions that might affect indirectly.
The red tide monitoring report
The FWC red tide monitoring program reports show that red tide algae concentrations have ranged from “Not present” to “medium concentrations” in sampling sites in Wakulla, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, and Levy counties in the last weeks of October 2021. In Taylor County, the probability of external factors (like nutrients runoff) causing a red tide event in coastal waters is very low to null. The Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) task force is always on the lookout for potential conditions for red tides or blue-green algae blooms in or coastal or freshwater waterbodies.
For the most updated information follow and check the FWC Red Tide report Website at https://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/. Another important source of information is the FDACS Shellfish Harvesting area Status at https://shellfish.fdacs.gov/ where you can check areas that have been closed or remain open for shellfish harvesting due to water quality conditions, including red tides.