Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon more correctly known as an algal bloom, an event in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column. These algae, more specifically phytoplankton, are single-celled protists, plant-like organisms that can form dense, visible patches near the water’s surface. Certain species of phytoplankton contain photosynthetic pigments that vary in color from green to brown to red. When the algae are present in high concentrations, the water appears to be discolored or murky, varying in color from purple to almost pink, normally being red or green.
Not all algal blooms are dense enough to cause water discoloration, and not all discolored waters associated with algal blooms are red. Additionally, red tides are not typically associated with tidal movement of water, hence the preference among scientists to use the term algal bloom.
Recently the Red Tide phenomenon has reached the beaches of UAE. So far two beaches in Dubai, one near Burj Al Arab and another one located close to the Umm Suqeim Park have been closed by the Dubai Municipality as traces of Red Tide are found here.
The fact that most of UAE’s new found land is taken from the islands, Red Tide could be nature’s way of taking its revenge on human intervention in the eco-system.
So far no deaths of humans have been attributed to Red Tide, but people may experience respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing, and tearing) when the red tide organism is present along a coast and winds blow its toxic aerosol onshore. Swimming is usually safe, but skin irritation and burning is possible in areas of high concentration of Red Tide.