Article in today's Destin Log.
Red tide: Worst in a decade?
‘It gave me the creeps’: Fish kills reported in Destin waters
William Hatfi eld
Pointing to what they call the worst case of red tide in perhaps a decade, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge officials are warning residents and visitors to stay away from area beaches. While searching for a struggling dolphin Monday, offi cials instead found hundreds of dead fi sh.
“I would say this is the worst we have ever seen by far,” Jessica Johns, a 9-year volunteer with the organization, said.
Reports of fish kills are coming in from Holiday Isle, the jetties and elsewhere.
“The bay especially is just full of it,” Johns said.
One resident, who asked not to be identifi ed, walks regularly by Joe’s Bayou and Clement Taylor Park. She reported that the bayou is clear but the shoreline is awash in dead fish and eels.
“It gave me the creeps,” she said. “I’ve been here since 1990, and I have never ever seen anything like that.”
Tests taken by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission volunteers on Nov. 2 concluded that water samples detected high concentrations of Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organ- ism, near Cinco Bayou in Okaloosa County. Medium concentrations of the algae were detected in nearby Garnier Bayou. Fish kill reports have been received from Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties.
“You guys have had pretty high cell counts and a pretty high concentration of the organism that causes red tide,” Jay Abbott, a red tide researcher with the commission, said.
The red tide symptoms most typically present in humans are irritation of the throat, nose, and eyes as well as shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.
It may ultimately take a bout of rough weather to dislodge the stubborn algae from the coast.
“Otherwise, it’s just gotta run its course,” he said. “It could stick around for a few months.”