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Red tide update for Northwest Florida

Pensacola Beach on October 8, 2018. Photo credit: Brantly Keiek (Photo: Brantly Keiek)

(WEAR-TV) - The presence of red tide along the coast of Northwest Florida has increased.

The Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, has been observed in higher amounts over the last week. New sampling data has found:

• “Very low concentrations” in Santa Rosa Sound near the Bob Sikes Bridge

• "Low concentrations” at Pensacola Beach in Escambia County

• "Medium concentrations" at Navarre Beach in Santa Rosa County

• “Medium concentrations” near Destin in Okaloosa County

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), swimming is safe for most people during red tide blooms. Some people may experience itchy skin, burning eyes, and respiratory irritation. Normally, any symptoms people feel while in the area of red tide will subside shortly after leaving the affected coastal environment.

While humans can quickly recover from red tide symptoms, the toxins the organism produces can injure or kill marine life. On Wednesday evening, FWCC said "In Northwest Florida, reports of fish kills were received for Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Franklin counties."

The University of South Florida monitors and forecasts the movements of red tide events. The University’s model predicts that low or medium concentrations of red tide will continue along the coast of Northwest Florida at least through the first few days of November.

Coastal areas of Southwest Florida have experienced an ongoing bloom of the organism since October 2017. Florida is no stranger to red tide blooms. FWCC says severe red tides have been observed since the mid-1900s before the state’s coastlines were heavily developed.

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