Red Tide on the Northeast Coast of Florida (2007)
In 1946 and 1947 Karenia brevis, the organism responsible for red tides and associated human and animal health impacts was identified from a bloom occurring off the central west Florida coast. In 1946 respiratory irritation and fish kills were reported on the Jacksonville coast, suggesting that the red tides could occur on Florida's east coast as well. However, it wasn't until 1972 that the transport of K. brevis from the west Florida coast to the east Florida coast via the Gulf Stream System was documented when red tide came inshore in the St. Lucie and Martin county areas. Transport of K. brevis from the west Florida coast to the east Florida coast has since been documented in 1977, 1980, 1983, 1990, 1997, 1999, and 2006.
The September 2007 through January 2008 bloom off the northeast coast of Florida is not the first time red tide has occurred in the Jacksonville area. In 1980 a K. brevis bloom moved inshore at Jacksonville via a warm water meander and was transported south along the coastline via inshore currents. Respiratory irritation and fish kills were reported. The last time a red tide occurred in the Jacksonville area was 1999. East Coast red tides usually persist for a month or less.
The Gulf Stream System, which included the Loop and Florida Currents and the Gulf Stream, plays a major role in the distribution of red tide. Prevailing winds and currents can move blooms from offshore to inshore. When blooms are held inshore by winds and currents impacts to beach goers and coastal communities are more acute.