Geoff McCabe

Info about the Red Tide in Montezuma-Malpais

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Surfing in Montezuma
Sept 10, 2010

The following information is based on research done by Jeremy from the Montezuma Surf School:

There are many kinds of red tide, most of which are harmless.

Some do have harmful effects which usually affect sea life more than humans

— There is no evidence yet that this red tide is at all harmful to humans
— Swimming, if harmful at all, is not as dangerous as eating infected sea life
— The most harmful effects on humans are due to eating infected shellfish and possibly (but less likely) fish in certain kinds of red tide
— Consumption may cause sickness, paralysis or even death!
— Avoid eating shellfish or fish during this time

If this is a harmful red tide, a small percentage of people may be mildly affected by simply being near or swimming or surfing in the ocean. The only known side effects are mild and include:

— Eye irritation
— Runny nose
— Coughing
— Skin irritation

Usually those prone to plant allergies to begin with may be affected. If you notice any symptoms, simply getting away from the beach or entering an air conditioned room should cause the symptoms to disappear. Asthmatics however may experience:

— Significant respiratory problems
— Decreased lung capacity

If you are asthmatic, we recommend NOT swimming or surfing

Although some locals spread this rumor, there is no evidence that red tide can cause an ear infection (although just swimming in the ocean can often cause an ear infection under any circumstance).

Our friend, nurse and Montezuma resident, Amanda Weir, recommends putting hydrogen peroxide in your ears after getting out of the ocean to avoid ear infections whether or not in the presence of a red tide.

As we are confident that the effects of surfing in a red tide (if seen at all) are indeed mild if any at all, our Surfing courses will continue as planned. We will scour the beaches for the best surfing location each day with the least amount of red tide possible. We hope that it will disappear shortly in any event, as it is known to only last a week or two.

Here is a list of references for the above information:

1. Natalia Corales – Marine biologist in Puntarenas

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