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NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom Operational Forecast System (HAB-OFS)

Harmful Algal Bloom (Red Tide) Health Information


Harmful algal blooms of Karenia brevis, the organism responsible for red tide in the Gulf of Mexico, can impact the health of humans and animal life. Outdoor pets may also be affected (see Mote Marine Laboratory's Red Tide FAQ page). Be aware that blooms are patchy in nature so impacts may be periodic and not all beaches will be impacted throughout the region. For up-to-date information about local beach conditions and other community resources, see the Local Beach Conditions page.

Some of the links on this page lead to external non-Federal government websites. The National Ocean Service (NOS) has provided these links because they contain HAB-related information that is used by the HAB-OFS and may be helpful to you. These links do not constitute an endorsement by the NOS of any information, products or services on the sites. If your organization contributes HAB-related information to the HAB-OFS and and would like to have a link added to this page, please contact us.

Respiratory and Eye Irritation

  • Symptoms:
    • May include coughing, sneezing, itchy throat and tearing, itchy eyes.
    • People with severe or chronic respiratory conditions (such as chronic lung disease or asthma) may be more sensitive.
  • What you can do:
    • If you experience uncomfortable symptoms consider leaving the surrounding area in favor of nearby beaches that are not impacted.
    • If you can, plan your trip by checking beach conditions before you go:
    • If you do not have asthma or any other chronic respiratory problems, over-the-counter antihistamines may relieve symptoms.
    • If you have a chronic respiratory condition, be vigilant about taking prescribed medications.
    • If necessary, consult your healthcare provider.
  • Find out more information:

Contaminated Shellfish

Effects on Wildlife

  • Blooms of Karenia brevis (the red tide organism) can produce a toxin that can affect the central nervous system-potentially causing marine animal deaths.
  • What you can do:
    • Do not harvest distressed or dead fish.
    • Avoid swimming in areas where dead fish may be present because they may be associated with harmful bacteria.
    • Pets can be affected by Florida red tide too! If bringing your pet to the beach, do not allow them to play with dead fish because if they eat contaminated fish, they may become sick. Wash them if they go swimming in the water.
    • Report fish kills:
    • Report dead, sick or injured marine mammals or sea turtles:
  • Find out more information:
Health Questions about Red Tide?

For 24/7 medical advice about the health impacts of red tide, call your local Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222).


Revised: 10/15/2013
NOAA / National Ocean Service
Web site owner: Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services