Monday, November 7, 2011

Oysters Aren't Fans of the Crimson Tide (Red Tide)

It's a tough time for fans of Gulf Coast oysters, as a swath of toxic algae in the Gulf of Mexico has delayed the start of the Texas oyster-harvesting season.

The algae outbreak, known as a Red Tide because it can turn waters red or brown, is the most widespread on the Texas coast in more than a decade. Oysters that ingest the  Red Tide algae can be toxic to humans, causing nausea and other stomach distress.

Scientists don't know what causes the Red Tide, which crops up every few years but is usually limited to the southernmost parts of Texas and dissipates after a few weeks. The current outbreak is now in its second month and covers a vast swath of the Texas coast, from South Padre Island to Galveston Bay.
The shrimp, crab and fish industries should be largely unaffected, scientists said.

THINK LIKE A SCIENTIST and Earn a reward:
  • ·      Find a map of Texas that shows the gulf coast.  Get one from a computer, copy one from a book, or even trace one.
  • ·      On your map, highlight the coastal area running from South Padre Island to Galveston Bay (where the Red Tide is occurring).
  • ·      Look carefully at the coastline of Texas and THINK LIKE A SCIENTIST.  Do you see anything interesting or unusual about its shape and features?  Write down your observations.

Turn in your completed assignment by classtime on Thursday, Nov 11 for a reward.