Red Tide

Essay by AKAaronHigh School, 11th grade February 2007

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Red Tide used to be a wild phenomenon but now it has turned into a threat to our ecosystem. If this algae keeps growing and polluting our waters soon it may get so out of hand that the earth will go through a dangerously dramatic change.

Red Tide is an algal bloom which is an event in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae come together rapidly forming a bloom. These algae are also called phytoplankton and are microscopic, single-celled protists, plant-like organisms that can form thick, visible patches near the water's surface. Some phytoplankton contain neurotoxins produced naturally which are dangerous to all kinds of marine life and mammals as well. When all these phytoplankton form large blooms various sea creatures feed off them and get the neurotoxins inside them then the toxins spread extremely quickly from tiny sea creatures to fish to larger fish to birds and eventually to humans causing them to have respiratory irritation and effecting other creatures even worse.

The New England states are exposed to recurring red tide problems. Red Tide has been seen in the middle Atlantic states, Florida and other Gulf Coast states are exposed as well. The West Coast including Alaska has a continuing Red Tide problem. Even the islands of the Florida Keys, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico have witnessed Red Tides. Red Tides are naturual and have not been proven otherwise so anything that happens in the future in effect of Red Tides is unpredictable and my or may not be dangerous. Red Tide may always have been around and we are just noticing it now because of our dramatically increased aquaculture activities which lead to increased monitoring of algae and and other natural phenomenon which is revealing indigenous toxic algae that were probably always there.

Over the last several decades, the United States has experienced a growing trend in the rate of problems related to Red Tides. At first only a few parts of the world were affected, but now almost every coastal state is threatened by more than one harmful or toxic species. Impacts of these Red Tides include large mortalities of wild and farmed fish and shellfish, human illness and death from contaminated shellfish or fish, death of marine mammals, seabirds and other animals, and the mixing up of marine habitats.

All we know so far is that Red Tides are a natural phenomenon but we must be careful because further invistigation may lead us to beleive that us, humans are responsible for the spread of these toxic algae by all of the marine traffic we have introduced into the water such as boats, ships, and other marine machinery that travels from place to place.