What is Red Tide / HAB?
What is red tide?
Red tides are natural phenomena in which the rapid multiplication of microscopic, unicellular algae discolour the water by the pigments contained in the algal cells. Depending on the pigments, the massive growth of algal cells may turn the water into pink, red, brown, reddish-brown, deep green or other colours.
Most species of algae do not cause threats to the environment and human, rather, they serve as the energy producers at the base of the food web.
The term "red tide" has been used widely to describe the phenomena in which the water is discoloured by high algal biomass. However, most red tides are harmless. On the other hand, a few algal species may cause adverse impacts such as fish kill, seafood contamination or harmful effect on humans even at low cell densities and the blooms are so-called harmful algal blooms (HABs).
Although red tides often occur in Hong Kong averaging about 14 incidents per year in the last decade, blooms associated with harmful effects are not common and seldom cause large scale impact.
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