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Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 [AR]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — Oct. 3, 2006

Red Tide Observed Along Coastal Bend

AUSTIN, Texas — A red tide bloom has been confirmed along the Texas coastal bend, with associated minor fish kills near Port Aransas, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Coastal Fisheries officials say there is no evidence at this time that there will be a major bloom impacting Texas beaches, but TPWD will continue to monitor the area.

Biologists are monitoring the effects of a red tide bloom first reported Sept. 29 near the University of Texas Marine Science Institute on the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

Fish kills and human respiratory irritation caused by red tide have been reported in Mesquite Bay along San Jose Island and Matagorda Island beaches, and in the Cedar Bayou pass separating the islands. The kills comprise mostly baitfish, such as menhaden and mullet, but some gamefish species have also been impacted.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, scientists know little about how breathing the air near red tides or swimming in red tides may affect human health. 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 existing respiratory illness, such as asthma, may experience these symptoms more severely.

If you have concerns or questions about human health effects of red tide or symptoms you are experiencing, consult a physician. Although some travelers may be concerned with how the red tide may affect their vacation plans, there are miles of clean beaches to enjoy on the Texas coast.

Red tide is a higher-than-normal concentration of the microscopic alga Karenia brevis. This organism produces a toxin that affects the central nervous system of fish so that they are paralyzed and cannot breathe. Red tide blooms can result in dead fish washing up on Gulf beaches.

Red tide is a naturally-occurring phenomenon whose causes and controls are currently being researched. When red tide algae reproduce in dense concentrations, or “blooms,” they are visible as discolored patches of ocean water, often reddish in color.

To report dead fish or suspected red tide, phone the Kills and Spills hotline at (512) 389-4848. For the current status of red tide in Texas, see the department Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/water/environconcerns/hab/redtide) or phone (800) 792-1112, select fishing and then select red tide.

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