AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Monday warned of a red tide event currently underway in the upper Texas coast and the Lower Laguna Madre.
The department said it found red tide on Sept. 3 at a monitoring station near Freeport. It said low to moderate concentrations of red tide have been found near Freeport and the Texas City Dike.
Parks and Wildlife said low concentrations of red tide have been detected in water samples from Good Hope Circle Beach and the Gulf Beach in Cameron County in the Lower Laguna Madre.
Texas Parks and Wildlife suspects the bloom led to fish kills at San Luis Pass, Surfside Beach and the Quintana/Freeport Channel.
TPWD said people who are near the water during red tide may experience irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, as well as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. People with an existing respiratory illness, such as asthma, may experience these symptoms more severely. Anyone with concerns or questions about human health effects of red tide or symptoms should consult a physician, TPWD said.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the microalgae that causes red tide is a naturally occurring organism that produces a toxin affecting the central nervous system of fish, causing paralysis and the inability to breathe. Red tide blooms often result in dead fish washing up on Gulf beaches as a result. When red tide algae reproduce in dense concentrations or “blooms,” they are visible as discolored patches of water, according to the parks department, often reddish in color.
TPWD said the last red tide occurrence in Texas was in 2018 in the upper and middle coast of Texas.
TPWD said it would update the red tide situation on its red tide webpage and its status hotline at 800-792-1112 (select “fishing” and then “red tide”). Satellite imagery of the algae bloom can also be found on the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science website.
To report sightings of red tide during normal business hours, call your local TPWD office or 361-825-3244. Outside of normal business hours you may call TPWD’s 24-hour communications center at 512-389-4848.