Toxic red tide hits Florida beaches ahead of spring break

Businesses are concerned that red tide will scare away spring break tourists. 

Published: March 8, 2023 1:27pm

Updated: March 8, 2023 2:55pm

The Florida coast is experiencing high levels of toxic "red tide," which is suspected to be responsible for recent reports of fish deaths and respiratory issues in humans. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it received reports of "fish kills" and "respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide" in southwest Florida last week.

Particularly high levels of red tide causing water discoloration have been detected over the past week off the coast of Clearwater, Sarasota, Port Charlotte and Bonita Springs, according to the state.

Red tide occurs when colonies of algae grow out of control into harmful algal blooms, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The algal blooms may cause breathing difficulties in the surrounding air. On rare occasions, humans have suffered from debilitating or even fatal illnesses caused by red tide. It also can make shellfish dangerous to eat as well.

Businesses are concerned that red tide will scare away spring break tourists. 

"I hope customers don’t feel it that much," Starvos Godevas, owner of We the Pizza in Clearwater Beach, told local Spectrum News 9. "Obviously if the customer base is affected by it then business-wise I’m affected by it as well."

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