From: Associated Press
Published October 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Red Tide Still a Problem in Florida Panhandle

DESTIN, Fla. — Red tide, which has beachgoers complaining of alergy-like symptoms while causing fish kills and closing oyster harvesting areas, remains scattered across the Florida Panhandle, state officials said on Wednesday.

Lt. Stan Kirkland, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said fewer complaints were coming in, but the latest tests show the toxic algae remains a problem in the region, even though it is spotty.

"It's still here," he said. "Nothing's changed."

Not every part of the Panhandle is affected the same way, but water in the region still is warm and conducive to the algae bloom, said Jeremy Lake, spokesman for the commission's research laboratory at St. Petersburg.

Brad Pickel, director of beach management for the Walton County Tourist Development Council, said his county, just east of Destin, was in good shape.


"People are back out on the beaches," he said.

Red tide, which is toxic to many species of marine life, causes respiratory problems including runny nose, itchy eyes and a sometimes severe cough in humans.

The bloom began in January off St. Petersburg and has spread from there along the coast, reaching the Panhandle shortly after Hurricane Katrina crossed the gulf, Lake said. The storm, which made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29, may have helped it spread to the Panhandle, he said.

Source: Associated Press

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