‘Red tide’ detected 7 miles off Yucatán coast

Red tides are thought to be caused by warm ocean-surface temperatures, low salinity, high nutrient content, calm seas, and rain followed by sunny days during the summer months. Photo: Courtesy

Scientists confirmed the presence of a red tide seven miles off Ría Lagartos.

There is no way of knowing if the red tide will spread closer to the beach or to other regions in the state, they said. 

The natural phenomenon causes patches of seawater to take on a red tint which is potentially dangerous to humans and ocean life. 

Swimming in a red tide can result in skin irritation and burning eyes.

Red tides are different from “normal” pollution as they are caused by a harmful algal bloom that decomposes and uses up large amounts of oxygen, resulting in fish die-offs.

But aside from concerns to public health and marine ecosystems, red tides are extremely disruptive to local economies that rely on tourism, as well as to fishermen.

Earlier: The summer season kicks off in Progreso, but vendors say they hoped for more

“For those of us who live off tourism, the red tide could be disastrous. We are just now starting to really recover from COVID-19. For now, tourists are still arriving, but if the red tide comes in we are in serious trouble,” said Ernesto Alonso Peraza Chan, a local tour guide in Ría Lagartos

The red tide is especially concerning for fishermen in Progreso who are preparing to begin the annual octopus season, one of their most profitable times of the year.

If the red tide does get worse, fishing activities will likely be halted by authorities out of fear for human health. 

The last red tide in Yucatán was in August 2015. The phenomenon occurs virtually every summer along the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The increasing frequency of red tides is thought to be caused by increasing ocean temperatures triggered by climate change. 

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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