Red Tide in Texas: Frequency and Distribution




Denton, Winston

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Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission


Texas has historically recorded red tide events along coastal waters. The frequency of documented red tide events has increased since 1986. The 1986 red tide caused more documented impacts to fisheries resources than previously reported incidents. The 2000 red tide has been more extensive in area coverage than previously reported incidents. Texas has experienced red tide along the nearshore coastal areas four of the last five years since 1996. The areas affected vary from year to year from a single event in a ship channel in 1990 to the entire coastline in 2000. The most common location for the occurrence of red tide is the Brownsville\Port Isabel area. Corpus Christi and Padre Island National Seashore have had three red tide events since 1996. The 1996 red tide extended from Matagorda Island to Brownsville Ship Channel and Port Isabel. Summer 2000, beginning in early August, an area of red tide was reported to TPWD from offshore Port Arthur east to Calcassieu Pass. The Freeport area began to have red tide fish kills a week later, which progressed into Lower Galveston Bay and West Galveston Bay. The areas of red tide spread across the upper and mid-coastal areas from High Island to Port O'Conner. A cold front moved across coastal Texas and dissipated the red tide across the area. The first recurrence occurred in Dickinson Bay, and then at Surfside and the Brazos River. A large fish kill occurred at Matagorda, east to Mitchell's Cut off Sargent Beach and in the Intercostals Waterway (ICWW). The red tide spread down the coast to Padre Island National Seashore, into Matagorda Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay and in the Gulf to Port Isabel. All bay systems, except the Laguna Madre, between Lower Galveston Bay and Port Isabel including large linear distances of the near shore Gulf contained red tide blooms and associated fish kills.


pg. 168


Red Tide