Approximately 8,000 volunteers were involved in cleaning up 21 Texas beaches on Saturday, despite dangerous red tide.
Red tide is a type of reddish algae bloom that can kill fish, cause water discoloration and it can also be detrimental to human health.
It can lead to food poisoning if people consume shellfish that have been contaminated with it. In addition, it results in shortness of breath, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, throat irritation and itchy eyes, due to vapors emitted by the plants.
According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, red tide concentrations were identified in Port Aransas, Port O’Connor, Corpus Christi Bay, Pelican Island, South Padre Island, the Brazos Santiago Pass and the Lower Laguna Madrea.
Ever since the detection, researchers from the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley Coastal Studies Lab have been monitoring the phenomenon, and conducting cell counts on algae samples taken from the area.
Given the elevated risk red tide poses to humans, cleaning efforts on the beaches have been scaled down. Nine of the regions farther south, which recorded dead fish due to the algae bloom, had to be removed from the program.
As a result, volunteers were advised not to perform cleanups in Port Aransas, and southward to South Padre Island, in the Rio Grande Valley. Moreover, those from the affected areas have been urged to wear particle filter masks and avoid the beach altogether if they are asthmatic.
“People are talking about it, which is a good thing, because we definitely want to get the word out that it’s not safe to be out in that kind of environment”, explained Renee Tuggle, one of the project’s supervisors.
Nevertheless, a large number of volunteers still showed up to remove trash, as part of the 29th annual Texas Adopt-A-Beach fall cleanup, which extends from Beaumont to Corpus Christi.
An estimated 8,000 people took part in the event, which helped beautify and neaten 21 Texas beaches. For example, 650 people cleaned North Beach and Cole Park, picking 13,775 pounds of debris across the 10-mile beach.
The participants were coordinated by officials from the Texas General Land Office. According to these supervisors, it is the first time ever that the extent of the cleanup project had to be reduced as a consequence of red tide.
Normally, around 10,000 volunteers participate in the annual fall cleanup, which is considered a family-friendly event that brings together people of all ages.
Still, it is remarkable that so many people still decided to get involved in this year’s edition, despite the potential health hazards. According to event organizers, the next Adopt-A-Beach cleanup on the Texas Coastal Bend will take place on February 13.
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