Travel News August 16, 2018
State Of Emergency Declared As Toxic Red Tide Sweeps Along Florida’s Coast
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most likely seen the head-turning pictures from along the coasts of Florida showing large numbers of wildlife carcasses recently washed up on shore. Just last month, handfuls of counties were issued state of emergencies due to the fact that toxic blue-green algae blooms were taking over Florida’s beaches. Sadly, the issue has only grown worse as now toxic red tides and algae blooms have proceeded to spread along the southern coasts of Florida.
Governor Rick Scott has officially declared a state of emergency for seven counties in Florida including Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties. The declaration comes after the state has been dealing with toxic algae blooms all summer, with conditions only getting worse within the last month. Coasts of Florida and local rivers have become overwhelmed with the red-algae blooms, which are producing irritating smells that are being blown inland.
Now, with red tides taking over the southern coasts of Florida, the red algae is producing toxins that affect the central nervous systems of aquatic organisms - but it isn’t just the wildlife that's affected. The toxic algae can lead to respiratory irritation in humans and residents and some people have begun to report mild respiratory discomfort.
While the information and photographs of the red tide and its effects are shocking, this unfortunately isn’t a new issue for the state of Florida. Red algae is said to have been documented in the state regularly since the 1940s, but in the last 60 years, the red tides have become a more frequent issue. While some scientists believe that the Gulf of Mexico’s rise in sea temperatures is a leading cause in the reoccurrence of Florida’s red tides, others have different theories.
Many have begun to blame the frequent red tides on the increase in housing developments changing Mother Nature’s dynamic. Where rainwater once flowed freely into estuaries, now it flows through developed lands which leads to more nitrogen and phosphorous being pushed into Florida’s waterways - further feeding the algae in the water.
Since the toxic algae blooms have grown worse this summer, residents and tourists have been forced to get a first-hand look at how tragically this is affecting the ocean’s wildlife. This summer, a young 21-foot-long whale shark was found washed up on shore, along with the discovery of nine bottlenose dolphins. Over 300 sea turtles, and nearly three million pounds of dead fish, eels, manatees, and other wildlife have washed up on the shores in just the last month alone.
So, what’s being done to help with Florida’s red tide situation? As of right now, Mote Marine Laboratory will receive $100,000 dollars to help with animal rescue, while the state will also reportedly be putting roughly $1.5 million toward clean-up efforts and scientific research.
VISIT FLORIDA, Florida’s tourism agency, will also receive $500,000 dollars to create an emergency grant program that will help communities promote travel in affected areas. In counties like Sarasota, Florida has seen an overall decline in sales and summer tourism since the toxic algae blooms have increased.
To see just how devastating the red tide has been on Florida’s wildlife, check out this upsetting footage put together by
National Geographic via YouTube.
Are you living in any of the seven counties that are currently being affected by the red tide? If you are, be sure to tell us your own experiences with the natural phenomenon in our comments.