Swaths of Texas’s coastline are biblically red following an algae bloom that has forced state health officials to ban oyster harvesting before the season officially begins.
The Department of State Health Services announced Wednesday that it “was banning commercial and recreational harvesting of oysters, clams and mussels because the ‘red tide’ algae bloom contains a toxin that can lead to shellfish poisoning in humans.”
While the algae bloom along Texas’s coast every September, it is significantly worse this year due to the drought and heat wave sweeping the state. Already the algae, which thrive in warm, salty water, killed 3 million fish. Meredith Byrd, a Texas Parks and Wildlife marine biologist, said it is the largest algae bloom in more than a decade to occur along the Texas Gulf Coast.
“We need a combination of rain and cold temperatures to start killing off the red tide,” Byrd said.
Texas’ oysters have already been sharply affected by the drought, with 65 percent fewer market-size oysters than were seen at this time last year, according to the parks and wildlife department.
Officials said: “The lack of rain has depleted the amount of freshwater [alcohol] in the estuaries [bars], the conditions oysters most like to spawn [have sex] in.”
They further espoused that the lack of oyster sexy time will undoubtedly sully Texas’ $217 million-a-year commercial oyster industry.
The tourism industry has also taken a hit as families with children, particularly those with asthma or other lung disorders, should avoid the waters since the red tide toxin can become airborne and cause health problems.
Many without health issues are also wary about swimming in what is alleged to be a sign of the apocalypse.
Read more at Huffington Post.