Red Tide to Blame for Potentially Thousands of Dead Fish Washing Ashore

Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 9:18am

It's not quite clear just how many dead fish line the shore at the boat ramp off of Highway 48. One thing is certain however, the smell is nearly unbearable and the Red Tide outbreak is to blame.

"It seemed like last year it was really strong, but you didn't see as many dead fish, but this year you see more dead fish but it's not as strong...but it's here," says fisherman Brian McAllister.

Right now biologists with Texas Parks and Wildlife are collecting samples of the water to closely monitor the outbreak. They're also trying to figure out how many species of marine life have been affected.

Obviously the dead fish washed ashore are no good, but what about the fish still out there, swimming around in that very same water?

An official with Texas Parks and Wildlife tells News Center 23 that the algae are a neurological toxin that basically paralyzes a fishes gills, it's not a toxin that is stored in the flesh.

So what's that mean for fishermen looking to cook up their catch?

Biologists say they're safe to eat if the live fish caught is acting normally, there's likely not a problem with it.

However, oysters, mussels, or any other types of shell fish should be totally avoided.

It's also recommended that swimmers skip the dip until the Red Tide clears up. While the algae toxin is not deadly to the relatively healthy human, other irritating symptoms could arise.

'You can tell right when you get down here, itchy throat, watery eyes, sneezing, it's almost like a common cold, but you don't have a cold,” says McAllister.

The cause of Red Tide is not quite clear. Biologists with Texas Parks and Wildlife as well as other scientist continue to research the phenomenon.

In the meantime, fish seem to be the only victims significantly affected by the massive algae bloom.

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