Is Mass. Red Tide Safe For Swimming? Wood's Hole Biologist Has The Answer

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NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — As shellfishing beds across the Massachusetts coast remain closed because of a red tide, some have been wondering what that means for swimmers in the Commonwealth.

The red tide shellfishing ban stretches from the New Hampshire border to the Cape Cod Canal, and was announced last week.

One senior biologist at the Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute said, if you're just swimming around, this red tide can't hurt you.

Read More: Red Tide Shutters Much Of Mass. Coast For Shellfishing

"Shellfish filter large quantities of water as they feed and they concentrate the toxins that are there," said Wood's Hole Senior Scientist Don Anderson. That's why Anderson said the little amount of water you get in your mouth while swimming wouldn't make you sick, but eating shellfish that take on much more of the toxins would.

The scientist had two big caveats, though: First, not all red tides are the same: the type of red tide that Florida is experiencing on its Gulf Coast is dangerous for human contact, including swimming. Also, Anderson said his advice only applied to the state's marine coastline — people looking to swim in the freshwater ponds and lakes in Massachusetts that have hazardous levels of blue-green algae are out of luck.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) has more:

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Written by Chaiel Schaffel

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