red tide

noun
a brownish-red discoloration of marine waters caused by the presence of enormous numbers of certain microscopic flagellates, especially the dinoflagellates, that often produce a potent neurotoxin that accumulates in the tissues of shellfish, making them poisonous when eaten by humans and other vertebrates.

Origin:
1900–05

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Collins
World English Dictionary
red tide
 
n
a discoloration of sea water caused by an explosive growth in phytoplankton density: sometimes toxic to fish life and, through accumulation in shellfish, to humans

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
red tide  
A population explosion of certain species of dinoflagellates, a kind of protozoan found in plankton. The dinoflagellates color the water red or reddish-brown and secrete a toxin that kills fish. Red tide usually occurs in warm coastal waters.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
One day, along the beach, tiny red algae blooms into a vast red tide.
Definitely do not eat any fish or shellfish from an area affected by red tide.
Hundreds of dead fish washing up along a beach appear to have died from a fresh bloom of red tide, marine scientists say.
Red tide blooms of unicellular dinoflagellates in near-shore locations cause environmental problems worldwide.
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