Toxic Red Tide Harming Florida Marine Life August 21, 2018

Dead fish, sea turtles, manatees, sea birds and even a shark have washed up on the beaches and clogged canals stretching from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys this summer on the toxic bloom.

Every year, both Florida and Texas deal with red tides, but in Florida this has been the worst year since 2006. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, defines a red tide, or harmful algae bloom, as a rapid growth of microscopic algae that produces toxins, which can have a harmful or deadly effect on marine life, birds and even humans. “The blooms can also cause large fish kills and discolored water along the coast,” NOAA officials said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has documented almost 300 sea turtle deaths in the waters off southwest Florida since the bloom started last October

The mayor of Sanibel, Florida, along the Gulf Coast said the tide was a result of a “perfect storm of coastal pollution and a hot Gulf ignited by flushing nutrient-laden water from Lake Okeechobee,” the Miami Herald reported. “All they do is obviously fuel the red tide. So, it’s a catalyst in making the problem worse,” Mayor Kevin Ruane said.

Red tide season in Florida usually last from October to around February, but has now lasted more than 10 months. It’s unclear how long the red tide conditions might persist and how many animals will die in the meantime.