Red tide, dead fish plague tourists

Clark Diaz
August 7, 2018

The sparkling white sand of Florida's southwestern beaches aren't dotted with sunbathers this week.

"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 is the name given to the blooms of a species of microorganisms that have a distinct red colour.

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Mote Marine Laboratory's phytoplankton ecology team, along with the Florida Wildlife Research Institute and Harmful Algal Bloom researchers, conducted a red tide survey along the Florida Gulf coast on Wednesday. The state's governor has declared a state of emergency. It's toxic, too: Reports of red tide first were reported in November 2017, and at least 400 stranded and dead sea turtles have been pulled from Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota county waters since, according to the Naples News-Press.

Social media has been inundated with images of dead animals that failed to escape the toxic bloom washing up on the Gulf of Mexico beaches across Florida.

Red tides at Sanibel Island in Florida have continued to leave beaches looking like graveyards, with dozens of fish and other sea life washed up on the shore.

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Also this week, a manatee in distress from exposure to red tide in southwest Florida was taken to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation. The algae can also cause respiratory problems in humans.

Most algae blooms are beneficial to the ocean, providing a source of food for marine creatures. "That's due, in part, to having red tide and a very cold winter", said Mezich.

A combination of red tide along Florida's coastline and blue-green algae in rivers and canals is killing a variety of animals in Florida waters this summer.

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