Gulf algae bloom affects much of Texas Gulf Coast

By the Associated Press | October 20, 2011 | 3:40 PM EDT

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (AP) — Researchers say an ongoing drought has led to ideal conditions for an algae bloom along the Texas Gulf Coast that's killing fish and making throats scratchy.

Texas Parks and Wildlife marine biologist Meridith Byrd says the geographic scope of the so-called red tide bloom is the largest since 2000. It stretches from Galveston to South Padre Island.

Byrd and other scientists started preparing early in the summer because they recognized the state's brutal drought was creating the warm, salty waters closer to shore that the algae love.

The Cameron County health department warned people with respiratory illnesses, including asthma, to avoid South Padre Island and Boca Chica beach Sunday until further notice. The last red tide along the Texas coast was 2009.