Red tide affects South Padre Island, Mexico

Friday, October 7, 2005

This true-color image of the Texas Gulf Coast was acquired on September 29, 2000, by the MODIS flying aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft.

A red tide continues along South Padre Island and into Mexico, according to officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Effects include stinging eyes, respiratory difficulties, and dead marine life.

Red tide is caused by a higher than normal concentration of Karenia brevis, a naturally-occurring single-celled marine organism. Natural factors can intersect to produce ideal conditions, allowing this algae to increase in number dramatically. The algae produces a neurotoxin that can disable nerves in both humans and fish. Fish often die because of the high concentrations of the toxin in the waters. Humans can be affected by breathing affected water taken into the air by wind and waves. Also, South Padre officials are investigating a paralyzed cat and deceased coyote who may have consumed fish killed by the red tide.

This bloom has lingered almost three weeks, and affects waters parallel to South Padre Island for about 25 miles, and may extend as far as 10 miles along Mexico beaches.