Public advised to use caution in waters with high concentrations of red tide


CONTACT: Ron Dawsey
(334) 206-5375 or (334) 850-5115
CONTACT: Greg Dunn
(251) 368-9188 or (334) 315-0233

The Alabama Department of Public Health cautions the public that water samples collected from Alabama Point to Little Lagoon Pass in Baldwin County indicate the presence of red tide cells in the low to medium range. Persons with respiratory problems or those experiencing symptoms of nose, throat or eye irritation should avoid any mist generated by these waters. In addition, fish kills are possible in this area because of red tide.

Red tide results from a massive build-up of certain species of microscopic sea organisms known as dinoflagellates. These organisms produce a toxin that affects the central nervous system of fish so they are paralyzed and cannot breathe. At high concentrations, the organisms may produce a discoloration of the water. Red tides are often referred to as “blooms.” The species (Karenia brevis), isolated from waters along the Gulf Coast, may produce toxins that also cause skin irritation and respiratory problems in humans.

Health Department officials advise:

  • Avoid the area if you are susceptible to respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema.
  • Leave the water if you experience skin irritations while swimming or boating and rinse immediately with fresh water.
  • If you experience nose, throat or eye irritation when exposed to the gulf mist, avoid the mist.
  • Do not eat fish from the red tide-affected area that are lethargic, swim in circles or appear unhealthy.

ADPH will continue to monitor gulf and bay waters for the presence of red tide cells. Unfortunately, the presence of red tide cannot be predicted to be at a certain location at a certain time. The effects depend on many variables such as temperature, salinity, direction of the wind, and how concentrated the organisms are at a given location.