“Red tide” decimates SW Florida’s marine life

Fish killed by Florida’s “red tide”

If you have been RVing along Florida’s southwestern coast you have likely noticed the toxic algae bloom known as the “red tide” that has persisted for months and is taking a deadly toll on marine wildlife.

In response, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in seven coastal counties affected by the algae, reported Woodall’s. The executive order provides emergency funding and resources which will help communities rescue and protect wildlife and clean up the pervasive algae, which is also smelly and is no fun to swim in, unfortunately, if you are staying at a beachside campground or RV resort.

Scott also allocated additional funds for researching red tides, to better understand their causes and to help researchers develop strategies for preventing future lethal blooms.

Red tides (which, despite the name, are not necessarily red) appear in ocean waters when conditions allow naturally occurring single-celled algae — in this case, the toxic Karenia brevis — to multiply and cluster. These blooms occur seasonally in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida, with the red tide typically emerging in the late summer or early fall and lasting three to five months, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Red tides and other harmful algae blooms can persist for as long as 18 months, affecting thousands of square miles, the FWC reported.

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5 Thoughts to ““Red tide” decimates SW Florida’s marine life”

  1. PeteD

    I have lived in SWFL for more than 40 years. We never saw anything on the scale we are seeing in recent years. When I moved here, red tide was an occassional thing that only affected small areas. Lake O never was entirely covered with blue green algae as it has been this year. For all the years I have lived here “big” sugar, is there a little sugar?, has been blamed for pollution. True, they may account for a small pertion of nutrients added to Lake O water but they have been in operation for over 100 years without this huge ramp up in problems.

    If you want to find the real culprit, look to the Kissimmee River basin which feeds the lake from the north. 40 years ago Disney World was very small and all the other theme parks did not exist. As they grew, development related to their growth mushroomed. Ever wonder where all those billions of gallons of treated waste water goes? It is very high in nutrients. Politicians like to kick the political football around blaming each other or BIG sugar or the cattle industry when the real problem in Florida is over development. Now that is a BIG problem. There’s more money there than big sugar. Development feeds the economical beast that keeps Florida green. I challenge doubters to go on Google Earth and follow the Kissimmee River north out of Lake O. You will find development on top of development, all of which did not exist when I came here and consequently, neither did these algae blooms. We have ourselves to blame. Stop pointing fingers and address the real cause, over development. One lump or two?

    1. Kathy Ernst

      Yes, yes and yes. I’m a native Floridian and the result of decades of neglect and overuse have finally proven to be too much for our environment. The Indian River Lagoon is dying, maybe dead already. Brown algae has been killing fish and grasses in this area for over two years. As with South Florida, this is not a natural phenomenon, but a result of continuing pollution and our inability to stop pointing fingers and start trying to find a solution.

  2. Kathy Ernst

    Thanks Patrick for helping to let people know this is not a “red tide” seasonal problem, but a dangerous toxic algae disaster from Lake O discharges.
    The state seems to hope everyone will shrug it off as naturally occurring and not look further into this. This is not a natural disaster, but a man made one that’s been long in the making with difficult and expensive choices needed to begin to reverse this.
    Anyone who wants information on this can find volumes on the South Florida Clean Water Movement Facebook site or other non-state affiliated or non-tourism sites.

  3. Patrick D'Annunzio

    Rick Scott declared an emergency for this because he is running for the senate. In the past, he has totally ignored it and cut funds for research into it. He is also ignoring the green blooms that come from agriculture runoff into Lake Okeechobee. Big sugar and the farming industry, that cause this problem, support Scott so he has done nothing about the situation. Scott won’t allow anything relating to climate change research and in fact has even banned the words, and words related to it, in state documents and won’t allow them to be said in public by state workers.

    1. Trevor

      Spot on Patrick. I’ve lived in SW FL 30+ years now. This is the worst it’s ever been by far. The toxic scum in the water is dangerous to be around, many people can’t even go in their own yards for any length of time. Besides the mass amount of fish, it’s very sad to see all the manatees, sea turtles, dolphins & even ducks floating dead in canals or on the beaches. Rick Scott has never done anything because the main culprits are some of his biggest contributors. Before becoming governor, the company he owned was given the largest fine ever for insurance fraud. Great guy.

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