Rick Scott says state will fight red tide

07 August, 2018, 00:29 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • Dead fish litter a beach in Fort Myers Florida. A lingering red tide off Florida's southwest coast has killed hundreds of fish turtles and other sea life in recent weeks

Mote Marine Laboratory scientists caution that time is of the essence in delivering care to an animal sickened by red tide.

The state wildlife agency says red tide, a type of algae, has been a naturally occuring phenomenon along Florida's Gulf Coast since at least the 1840s and that blooms occur almost every year in the Gulf of Mexico.

"It's certainly disgusting", said Amy Benton, who walked along the shoreline early Thursday with a scarf over her nose and mouth as protection.

FWC officials also want to quickly remove the bodies of dead marine life because their decomposition only works to fuel an already relentless red tide bloom. The bloom can grow or dissipate based on nutrients in the water, as well as the speed and direction of water currents and wind speeds.

"It's hard to predict more than a few days out [when it will end]", Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Michelle Kerr told CNN.

Red tide blooms produce toxic chemicals that can affect both marine organisms and humans.


Dozens of sea turtles are also turning up dead. A map released by FWC officials on Wednesday shows a red tide hot zone stretching from Manasota Beach in the south up to Sarasota in the north.

A manatee was found dead, likely due to red tide, on Tuesday in Cape Coral. Things are so serious that Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order last month to combat the algae, urging local agencies to take emergency actions - including redirecting the flow of water to curb the growth of the blooms.

Kills can occur at thresholds of at least 10,000 cells per liter.

For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness.

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