A Toxic Algae Takeover Is Happening All Over Texas

Blooming water. Algae bloom due to pollution. Water pollution protection concept

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Toxic algae blooms, commonly known as red tide, have reappeared along the Texas Gulf Coast, affecting regions such as Galveston Bay on the upper coast and the lower Laguna Madre in the Rio Grande Valley, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

This resurgence marks the first occurrence of red tide in Texas since 2018, when it impacted the state's upper and middle coastal areas. The onset of red tide typically occurs in late summer or early fall, but initial observations were near Freeport, south of Houston, on September 3.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has linked at least two fish kills to the red tide, one near Surfside-Quintana beaches close to Freeport and another between Sargent Beach and Matagorda Beach. Red tide results from the rapid proliferation of microalgae colonies, releasing toxins that can harm humans, fish, and marine life. These blooms manifest as discolored patches, often reddish, in the water.

Swimmers in areas with high red tide concentrations may experience eye, nose, and throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The toxins can also become airborne.

While red tides are more common in Florida and tend to be short-lived in Texas, the state authorities, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and NOAA, are closely monitoring the situation. Factors like prolonged dry spells can contribute to algal blooms and red tide outbreaks.

The phenomenon has potentially caused fish deaths in locations such as San Luis Pass and Surfside Beach, prompting beach closures and safety warnings in affected areas, including Brazoria County. Red tide has also been identified in the lower Laguna Madre area.

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