Is Brown Tide Dangerous? Scientists Are Fearing Superbloom Due to Merging With Red Tide in Florida
Florida has a fear of brown tide after the red tide (Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Florida's coastline is looming under the natural growth of harmful algae, also called the red tide. Now another natural outbreak of Trichodesmium, a blue-green algae has begun in western Florida, called the Brown Tide. Scientists are hoping it does not come in contact with the red tide, as that would result in a superbloom, a major outbreak of the algae. The brown tide is also an annual occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico.

What is Brown Tide and is it Dangerous? 

Brown tide is a natural phenomenon characterised by a growth of harmful algal blooms (HAB), marine plants known as phytoplankton. When one species blooms in densities it can cause the water to turn dark brown, thus called a brown tide. The occurrence of brown tide dates back to the 1700s according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Florida Declares Emergency For Worst Red Tide: Know All About Deadly Algal Bloom Affecting Gulf Coast. 

Compared to the red tide, a brown tide is not so dangerous for the human beings or even the marine life. The main concern is, however, the time period of the bloom. The dense concentrations can block the sunlight to enter the waters, and thus affect the growth of the seagrasses. It also does not kill the fish, like the red tide. The tide is in fact, healthy when it is brown. But when it begins to decay, it turns green, pink or red and then white. The toxins are then released into the air as they decay. The Trichodesmium algae are not known to produce toxins that are harmful to humans or the fish in water.

What is Brown Tide Meets The Red Tide?

The brown tide feeds off the iron in the air. It also gets most nitrogen in the atmosphere. If the brown tide happens to meet the red one, it will feed from it and turn more dangerous. The red tide plant Karenia brevis, can use the nitrogen fixed by the brown tide and get stronger. The red tide would use the brown tide as its food source, and thus its lifespan would increase. The red tide bloom is currently shifting up and down the Suncoast, Florida. The red tide has killed several fishes and people around have reported to respiratory irritation. So if the two blooms meet, the red tide will only grow, resulting in more damage.