‘Red Tide’ in Florida causes the blues
By admin August 17, 2018

The sudden bloom of toxic algae has infected the waters of Southwest Florida causing a state of emergency. The algae are found in marine environments for most of the year, but the past two months have produced high concentrations. This red tide has made breathing difficult for the local residents, slowed tourism, and filled the popular beaches with carcasses of fish, eels, porpoises, turtles, manatees and one 26-foot whale shark.

Governor Rick Scott announced the state of emergency on Monday in seven counties starting from Tampa Bay south to the fringe of the Everglades. $1.5 million have been promised in emergency funding. Although red tides happen around the world, this one is caused by an organism almost exclusively found in the Gulf of Mexico: a single-celled organism called Karenia brevis. K. brevis produces toxins that cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning.

Shellfish eventually accumulate high concentrations of the toxins, but the toxins affect the people who consume shellfish and not the shellfish itself. Another issue that the red tide has caused is the loss of fish. Also, Sea turtles have been hit hard, with more than 300 dead from the red tide in the affected counties.

Even though it is a natural phenomenon, scientists have been trying to figure out why, exactly, the current red tide along the Gulf Coast has been so prolonged and fatal. There have been experiments to completely vanish the algae but little has been achieved since most of the methods negatively impact the ecosystem.

Less rainfall and faster wind could potentially ease this deadly red tide but for now, end to this seems farfetched.


Further reading:

Scientists seek new ways to combat Florida’s growing ‘red tide’

Florida’s toxic algae problem and your health: ‘Red tide’ and ‘green slime

Florida declares a state of emergency as red tide kills animals and disrupts tourism



Thanks for sharing !

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