The Red Tide of 2018

By: DeAndre Pearson and David Swets

Over the past few months, Florida’s beautiful coastline has been under assault. No, there are no foreign armies invading the sun-soaked beaches. The source of the invasion is local, and has been attacking Florida as early as the 1840s.

Red tide, or Karenia brevis, is an algal bloom that produces a toxin that affects the central nervous systems of fish causing death. According to Fox News, there has been upwards of 300 tons of dead fish collected along the Florida coastline.

The skyrocketing death rate of marine life is concerning to say the least, especially for businesses that are dependent on seafood as their primary source of income. The Fish Company is a local seafood market in Atlantic Beach that is heavily dependent on seafood, hence the name. However, in an interview with Inside Jacksonville’s DeAndre Pearson, Owner Ann Pinner shared that the fear of red tide was more harmful on her business than the algae itself.

“We have not seen an impact in our products that we’re getting,” Pinner said during the interview. “We don’t get very many products from the Gulf region.”

Pinner continued on to describe that most of her product comes from Jacksonville’s waters and the waters further north like North and South Carolina and Virginia.

“Really red tide hasn’t affected our business directly through the quality of our products,” Pinner said. “The direct impact it has had is people that don’t come in because they are scared of red tide.”

Though the red tide epidemic has been having catastrophic effects on the population of Florida’s waters, the algae blooms are not fatal to humans. However, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, humans can experience respiratory irritation. Such instances of respiratory irritation were reported in Manatee, Sarasota and Lee counties, in a red tide mid-week update released by the FWC on September 12, 2018.

Pinner is not concerned with red tide directly effecting her business through the quality of her products and she has no reason to be concerned. There have been no reports of red tide off the Jacksonville coast as the algae blooms have stayed on the Gulf side of the state. Pinner wants locals to know that, “our seafood is safe.”