There are many different causes of the red tide. The red tide is an algae bloom of redish-brown algae that comes up suddenly and then goes away again. There are many different species of algae that are associated with red blooms. Sometimes these blooms happen naturally because of a change in water temperature or something else, but other times they happen because of human actions such as polluting the water. The red tide has also been associated wiht El Nino in teh Pacific.
A certain species of algae called Karenia brevis are the organisms that are responsible for red tide. When ocean temperatures, salinity and nutrient levels are right, these algae will replicate causing a giant red algal bloom. This bloom produces a toxin that paralyzes fish and can end up killing them.
Red tide is used to describe the brownish or reddish coloration of waters that sometimes occurs in oceans, rivers, or lakes. Like already stated, they are caused by algal blooms, the rapid reproduction of a variety of toxic, single -celled organisms. Dinoflagellates and diatoms are some examples of single celled organisms known to cause red tide. Some cases red tides are harmless, but during intense algal blooms, dangerous levels of toxins are released into the water which may result in the death of millions of fish. Humans and animals that eat contaminated shellfish may become paralyzed or even die.
Red tides tend to be prevalent in areas with regular cycles of coastal upwelling. This upwelling causes algal blooms due to the cold, nutrient rich water becoming readily available for the diatoms that make up red tides. Algal blooms also result in areas where there are large amounts of agricultural runoff, such as in a watershed that contains streams/rivers that run past farms where large amounts of nitrates from fertilizers runoff into the riparian systems. The sudden influx of nitrates causes an algal bloom, resulting in “red tide” conditions if the waterway leads to an ocean environment such as an estuary or gulf.
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