Florida beaches everywhere have experienced the now darker and toxic Gulf due to the red tide bloom. Red tide is a toxic algae bloom that can be brought to shore by wind or waves. The bloom is the worst it’s been in ten years, affecting areas along the Gulf coast from Tampa to Naples and even extending to the outskirts of the Everglades.
The tide began in Nov. 2017 and is continuing to increase its toll on Florida. “What people don’t know about [the red tide] organism is that it’s been around since the 15th and 16th century,” said veteran biology and chemistry teacher Jerome Murray. “When it is brought to shore and the temperature and salinity are correct it begins to bloom.”
An excessive amount of marine life has been found dead on beaches across the state. Dead sea turtles, fish, manatees and the remains of a 26-foot whale shark have been found along Florida shores. A recent count has found that around 300 tons of fish have been found dead. “When the tide begins to bloom the organism’s metabolism is sped up [and] it takes the oxygen from the fish,” said Murray.
With the stench from marine life continuing to wash up on shore, the current beach conditions are looking bad. This is causing summer trips and any vacation or travel plans to Florida to be at risk of cancelling or being rescheduled. This poses a larger problem for Florida due to its dependence on the tourist industry.
Florida residents are being advised to avoid heavily affected areas, stay away from the beaches and refrain from swimming in affected areas. Even eating shellfish that have been in the affected regions can cause consumers to experience neurotoxic shellfish poisoning.
To combat this issue, Governor Rick Scott declared a “state of emergency” in seven counties along the west coast. Around $1.3 million in grants were given to help the restoration for both marine and tourism efforts.