Gulf waters in good condition as health authorities monitor for ‘red tide’

Gulf waters are so far free of the dreaded "red tide." Photo: Getty
Gulf waters are so far free of the dreaded “red tide.” Photo: Getty

Yucatán’s beaches are ready for Easter-week vacationers as health authorities test the Gulf waters for algae that causes a repellent “red tide.”

Miguel Ángel Soberanis Luna, head of the state Directorate Against Health Risks, said that when a red tide surveillance committee was formed, sea water sampling increased, especially at the beginning of the holiday season.

He said that the monitoring program is challenging because red tide is a natural phenomenon.

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“The sea water has been good,” said Soberanis Luna, who also oversees testing at cenotes and public pools.

The last red-tide invasion here was in August 2015. They occur every summer along the Gulf Coast on Florida’s side.

They occur when algae colonies grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds. Resulting human illnesses are rare, but can be debilitating or even fatal.

Scientists prefer the term “harmful algal bloom” over “red tide.”

Either way, the blooms are a concern because they affect not only public health and marine ecosystems, but also local and regional economies.

Sources: La Jornada Maya, NOAA

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