Deadly Red Tide Returns To Florida, Killing Marine Life

The red tide which plagued the Florida coast for nearly 15 months before finally abating is back again and causing fatalities to marine life, according to the Associated Press (AP):

“Biologists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said Friday that samples taken from the waters off the shore of Collier County found high concentrations of the toxic algae where they also received reports of dead fish and cases of respiratory irritation.

“Red tide is a natural occurrence that happens due to the presence of nutrients in salt water and an organism called a dinoflagellate. The 15-month bloom caused respiratory irritation in people and killed sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and fish.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Kelly Richmond confirmed that the latest instance of red tide on the state’s southwest coast has already killed fish:

“We have received reports of dead fish for several locations in Collier County including Barefoot Beach, Naples Bay near the Gordon River and by the Naples Pier. Mullet appeared to be the most affected species but other unidentified fish have also been reported dead.”

The first red tide began in November of 2017 and resulted in massive loss of marine life, including fish, turtles, and marine life, EcoWatch notes. When it reached its apex, it was found on all three of the state’s coasts.

Red tides are the result of Karenia Brevis, an organism that spreads rapidly in the right conditions, according to The Tampa Bay Times:

“Small, scattered colonies of microscopic Red Tide algae live in the Gulf of Mexico all year long. Usually their numbers are so tiny that no one notices. But every now and then, usually in the late summer or fall, the algae population 10 to 40 miles offshore explodes into something called a bloom.
“During a bloom the algae multiply rapidly and spread across the water’s surface, staining it a rusty color that gives the phenomenon its name. Then winds and currents carry it toward shore, where it can be fed and prolonged by pollution from fertilizer, sewage spills and leaky septic tanks.”

Rick Bartleson, a  scientist at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, told the Fort Myers News-Press that he had done readings in the Tarpon Springs area recently and found unusually high concentrations of the organism that causes red tides:

“My Tarpon Beach sample had 130,000 Karenia cells per liter. That may have come from the patch to the southeast since the wind is blowing that way.”

In 2018, scientists in Florida announced that they were on the verge of possibly developing ways to control toxic algae blooms in the Sunshine State, with Reuters noting:

“In hopes of combating future outbreaks, scientists are field testing a patented process that would pump red-algae-tainted seawater into an ozone-treatment system and then pump the purified water back into the affected canal, cove or inlet, Crosby said.

“Experiments carried out in huge 25,000-gallon tanks succeeded in removing all traces of the algae and its toxins, with the water chemistry reverting to normal within 24 hours, he said.”

So far, however, those solutions remain in the experimental stages.


Featured Image Via Wikimedia Commons 



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