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"Red Tide" Prompts Visitor Advisory at Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island fisherman

Padre Island usually offers great fishing and other beach activities, but a red tide situation is putting a temporary damper on the fun. NPS photo.

Officials at Padre Island National Seashore are cautioning visitors about the occurrence of the natural phenomenon known as "red tide." The situation is causing a significant fish kill and officials are warning visitors about possible hazards to people and pets.

According to information from the park,

Red tide is a naturally occurring, higher-than-usual concentration of the microscopic algae Karenia brevis. The algae produce a toxin that affects the central nervous system of fish, so that they are paralyzed and cannot breathe. As a result, Red Tide blooms often result in dead fish washing up on the beach.

When red tide algae reproduce in dense concentrations, or "blooms," they are sometimes visible as discolored patches of ocean water, often reddish in color. High concentrations of microscopic algae in the rough surf can cause the irritants to become suspended in the salt spray when the waves break. Red Tide affects people and pets which are near the seashore.

Superintendent Joe Escoto asks park visitors to be cautious, especially children and visitors with breathing problems, as Red Tide can irritate the respiratory system, eyes and throat.

Thousands of dead fish have washed ashore in the park due to the red tide situation. If you're planning a visit to the park, you can phone the Malaquite Visitor Center at (361) 949-8068 for more information.

Information posted today on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) website provides some details about the area involved in the current algae bloom:

TPWD hitched a ride aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter yesterday to get an aerial view of the red tide bloom. The helicopter flew from Mustang Island to Port Mansfield and confirmed that both the bloom and patches of dead fish stretch along that entire length of coastline. On the northern end, the bloom is fairly close to the beach, approximately one-quarter mile offshore. An extensive offshore bloom was seen near Yarborough Pass along with many large fish floating in the area.

The TPWD also provided the following information from yesterday afternoon:

Cameron County game wardens working approximately 2 miles offshore of South Padre Island today report severe aerosol effects and many dead fish floating in the water.

Preliminary numbers from the Padre Island National Seashore fish kill indicate that the event is mostly comprised of mullet, Atlantic bumper and ladyfish (skipjack) with large redfish being seen as well. Fish were highly concentrated along the shoreline, numbering as high as 1000 fish in a 15-yard stretch.

Dead fish have also begun washing ashore in the Bob Hall Pier area, including ladyfish (skipjack), eels, and speckled trout. Discolored water can be seen out near the third sandbar.

Dead fish began washing ashore at Mustang Island State Park this afternoon. Aerosols were also reported. TPWD biologists will be on the beach Thursday morning to assess the fish kill.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife website and the site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have additional information about red tide, including answers to frequently asked questions about hazards to human health and whether it is safe to eat fish and shellfish from areas affected by a current algae bloom.


Thanks for posting this, I was wondering if they'd ever get around to posting a warning.

Did you see of the newspaper web sites in Texas are trying to say it was over days ago?

Anyway, I'm in Florida and we have red tide lots more often than TX. We're monitoring on our site at: Please feel free to come by and post a comment or contact me about writinfg an article for our site if you'd like.

O Sanp! I went to the page you linked, looking for the warning so I could quote it for my red tide report page (, and there's no warning there, in fact the text you quoted is either completly gone or just on a different page than you linked to. Infact one of the pages you linked to said this about the current red tide:
"If it were my family heading to the coast, I would not cancel a vacation because of red tide."

We have had similiar problems in Florida. But with enough public pressure they are finally taking some steps (some counties, the state still refuses to play, but they are lying less)

So sad.

Red Tide -

Sorry if there's any confusion about information posted on various linked websites; this is obviously a situation that is changing each day.

I did check the embedded links a few minutes ago, and they do seem to provide current information, if you read through the various pages on the state website, it still includes information consistent with the original story.

This situation has no doubt hurt those who rely on tourism for their economic base; perhaps that had led to adjustments in the information posted on various sites.

My brother-in-law just died of an apparent heart attack in Brownsville on January 6, 2010 after arising that morning and complaining of a "burning" in his chest. He thought it may have been respiratory or alergy related and took a benadryl. He was found unresponsive in his bed by his wife shortly thereafter.
Could this be related to red tide effects? They had arrived at S. Padre area earlier in the week and were settling in for a month's vacation down there from their home in Colorado.
I'd be cautious about the situation for sure.

Some friends and I were on North Padsre Island Sunday Came in late Saturday night and four wheeled it down about ten miles. Immediate problems with burning eyes, breathing, severe histamine reactions to the allergens, coughing, nose running, and the same with eyes. Pitched tent spent the night. Dog was very sick and things became worse throught the night. Sunday morning a Ranger drove by and did not bother to say a word.  Fortunately a nice man who was leaving told us what was going on. We packed and left. Bad experience. Ranger should have warned us.

Family and I were at the beach in Port A this weekend and experienced the "aerosol effect" Sunday (Oct. 9th). Had no idea at the time what was causing the symptoms- profuse tearing of the eyes, burning throat, coughing, runny nose. Knew something larger was going on because even strangers were complaining of the same symptoms. Could barely see while driving when we left. Also experienced the symptoms 300 yds from the beach upon leaving our hotel. Wow! Could also explain why I didn't catch anything while fishing. Not even a crab! Everyone is fine now.

Wife and I were on SPI this Sunday and werent aware of RT till we heard about it later at a Cafe. We had got out of car off Access #5 and had immediate coughing, sneezing, watering eyes. many species of dead fish along beach, largest numbers seemed to a a small fry , maybe 2-3 " in length. Inside car with AC on or buildings wasnt bad, just along beach.

Just visited Mustang ISLAND THIS AFTERNOON.  2pm10 19 '11.  Air was clean sea is rough due to strong winds blowing for two days. No dead fish on the beach probably washed out with the tides.  Sucked up some sand shrimp.  If conditions remain the same till morning will try fishing.Stained waters in the causeways so don't really know if algea bloom is still around.  No dead fish today and no respitory pproblems walking the beach.  RRC

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