- 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.
- 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
- 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.