Healthy red tid cells are present in low quantities all of the time in the Pine Island area. Red Tide Blooms (massive scale reproduction of the Red Tide organisms) seem to take place when the right concentration of nutrients, salinity and tempature are present.
It is suspected that man made nutrient runoff plays a role in some of these blooms but this is still speculative at this point. Red Tide blooms are still very much in the research stage.
What is known is that the red tide culprit:
- Has been positively identified as Gymnodinium breve (G. breve), a plant-like marine algae cell that is a member of the Dinoflagellate family.
- G. breve, releases a very potent neurotoxin when stressed
- Causes quick death in fish and much other marine life when present in sufficient quantities
Here is a microscope image of red tide cells.
A healthy red tide cell (top) and a "stressed" cell (bottom) taken by Mote Marine Labratory of Florida