It seems an unusually persistent bloom of toxic red tide has been strengthening in Corpus Christi Bay despite the fact that winter is just around the corner. Usually, cooling bay temperatures stave off or diminish concentrations of red tide, according to Meridith Byrd, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) harmful algal bloom coordinator. But the expert said red tide blooms have been known to thrive in the 40-degree range off the East Coast.
This fall’s red tide was first reported in early October on the southern coast. As it moved north to the central coast, it killed millions of fish periodically throughout October and November. The bloom had been declining in December until last week, when by late Friday dead fish were being reported along the Corpus Christi bayfront.
This past week, Padre Island National Seashore officials began recommending that visitors do not bring their dogs to the park until further notice. Coyotes and dogs have recently become sick or died, possibly from brevetoxin accumulation caused by eating dead fish that had washed up on the beach from the red tide. No sea turtles have been found sick or dead on Texas’ beaches. Meanwhile, low concentrations of red tide were recorded Friday at South Padre Island and Port Isabel.
TPWD has reported that it continues to communicate with local tourism officials in the Corpus Christi and South Padre Island areas, providing factual information to tourism partners, the media and public that accurately describes conditions without being alarmist. Another TPWD red tide update with the latest information will come in the near future. Interested persons can also refer to the department’s Harmful Algal Bloom Web pages for the latest details or to see the complete record of reports on this fall’s red tide and for all similar events since fall 2005.