Science

State of emergency declared in Florida due to toxic red tide

State of emergency declared in Florida due to toxic red tide

The city of Sarasota has declared a state of emergency connected to this summer's outbreak of red tide and its effects on local beaches and businesses.

The red tide is nothing new in Florida.

Red tide, a common term used for a harmful algae bloom, is a naturally-occurring microscopic algae. Though red tide appears nearly every year, the severity varies by year. Red tide is particularly hard to stop because a solution would need to remove K. brevin and the toxin it releases into both the air and the water without negatively impacting the ecosystem. "Fish kills near Tampa Bay were even mentioned in the records of Spanish explorers".

Why is red tide happening?

FWC has mobilized all available resources to mitigate red tide, and Executive Director Eric Sutton has waived rules through an executive order to expedite the removal of dead fish - regardless of applicable bag, size or possession limits or of season or area closures - from shoreline, inshore or nearshore areas in all seven counties included in the governor's order.




Hopes of tackling future Red Tides are heightening with scientists field-testing a process that can pump red-algae tainted seawater into an ozone-treatment system that pumps purified water into affected coves and inlets.

Most people can safely swim in red tide, but it can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. But this year, Scott says the bloom has been devastating.

The pungent algae bloom began in October and stretches about 150 miles from Naples in the south to Anna Maria Island in the north and appears to be moving north.

The order will address impacts of red tide in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. "I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its awful impacts", he said.

The "Hands Along the Water" volunteer-organized events took place across Florida, from Cocoa Beach to Clearwater, to show "solidarity to defend water and wildlife", according to statements on the many Facebook event pages. "Because K. brevis can not tolerate low-salinity waters for very long, blooms usually remain in salty coastal waters and do not penetrate upper reaches of estuaries", it says. The first one targeted the blue-green algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee and its adjoining waterways. That money brings to a total of $1.3 million the amount granted to the county, where some tourists have cut short their summer vacations.