Red Tide is back & stronger than ever in Florida beaches

Red Tide — Courtesy: Shutterstock — smcfeeters

When there are large concentrations of Karenia brevis, an algae that produces brevetoxins that can kill marine life, the red tide is visible in offshore waters.

Algal growth can also result in blooms that color the water a reddish-brown color.

Florida is unable to stop the deadly “red tide.”

The creature was discovered in 115 samples around the state’s west coast, including in the well-known tourist destinations of Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s report from last week.

Medium to high concentrations of the algae were discovered in 56 of the samples, posing hazards to not only marine life but also human health, including skin irritability and breathing issues.

The poisonous algae typically stay near the ocean’s bottom. Yet, the nutrients do travel when they do.

“They just accumulate there, and then they grow on whatever nutrients they can find,” Stumpf said. “They’re really good at scavenging the limited nutrients in the water.”

For instance, hundreds of dead fish of various sizes have washed up along miles of coastline on the Siesta Key beaches in Sarasota, Florida, where beachgoers routinely cough and massage their burning eyes.

Those with respiratory conditions, such as those who have asthma, should avoid beaches with moderate to high red tide levels because the bloom can be particularly detrimental to them.

Brevetoxins can also result in food poisoning when they build up in shellfish like clams and oysters.

Florida’s red tide experience this March is not the worst; between 2017 and 2018, the state had one of its deadliest outbreaks, which resulted in the death of 2,000 tonnes of marine life.

Red tide occurs naturally, but according to scientists, climate change could make it worse.

Red tide may have been made worse by Category 4 Hurricane Ian, which devastated southwestern Florida last September, as fertilizers and garbage from farm fields entered rivers.

According to Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there is currently “no practical and acceptable way to control or kill red tide blooms.”

Stories that matter are our priority. At Florida Insider, we make sure that the information we provide our readers is accurate, easy-to-read, and informative. Whether you are interested in business, education, government, history, sports, real estate, nature or travel: we have something for everyone. Follow along for the best stories in the Sunshine State.