nat 115
Sep 25, 2000
Red Tide Spreading Along Coast of Gulf of Mexico
The Associated Press
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - A bloom of toxic red tide algae is spreading along the Texas Gulf Coast, shutting down some oyster fishing and killing millions of fish whose rotting remains are fouling beaches.
State environmental officials say it's the largest concentration of red tide since 1986, when more than 22 million fish died in four months.
"We don not have an accurate number yet.  But we are estimating several million fish have been killed so far," Dave Buzan, spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Kills and Spills Team, told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Buzan said there was a major bloom off Matagorda bay on Sept. 18.  "It is so big it can be detected on satellite imagery," he said.
High concentrations of the algae called red tide produce a toxin that kills fish by affecting the central nervous system.
For humans eating contaminated fish or shellfish, the toxin can cause numbness, dizziness, nausea, fever and muscle paralysis.  The most serious cases can result in respiratory arrest and death.  In addition, people who swim in affected bodies of water can suffer breathing and eye irritation.
Elsewhere along the coast, officials in Houston said Sunday that red tide was spreading from the gulf into Galveston Bay and other inland waterways.
Commercial harvesting of oysters in Galveston bay has been shut down since Sept. 5, because of red tide.  State Department of Health officials were reviewing whether similar restrictions need to be issued elsewhere along the coast.  Oyster season doesn't open at Corpus Christi until November


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