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Toxic Red Tide Kills Countless Fish as It Moves Up Florida’s Coast

Officials in one county are running operations to clean up the rotting fish.

Sep 10, 2018
Sukanya Charuchandra

ABOVE: Photo by Conor Goulding/Mote Marine Laboratory

Toxic red tide that has been killing wildlife and suspending tourism in southwest Florida has spread further north to Tampa Bay, killing thousands of fish en route, reports The Washington Post.

The algal bloom of Karenia brevis now stretches from Pinellas County all the way down 120 miles of the southwestern coast of Florida to Collier County. Aerial surveys, satellite imagery, and water samples suggest the bloom may in some patches stretch as far as 10 miles or more off the coast of Florida. 

See “Florida Is Having a 10-Month Streak of Red Tide

According to the Post, over the summer, the algal outbreak killed several hundred sea turtles, dozens of dolphins, a 26-foot-long whale shark, and, in its latest attack on marine life, several hundred thousand fish off the coast of Pinellas County. Cleanup efforts are ongoing and could last all week as dead fish continue to float offshore, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Tropical Storm Gordon’s passage has likely helped carry the bloom further northwest, according to a status update by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Besides the red tide’s assault on wildlife, its aerosols are an eye and respiratory irritant, keeping tourists and families away from the beach. “We’ve had a hard time; it is our slow season, but people have seen what is going on and have been scared to come out here,” Julie Snyder, manager at Bridge Tender Inn on the Manatee County coastline, tells the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

However, the circumstances are improving for Manatee County’s Anna Maria barrier island. Island restaurateurs are holding special events to attract customers as well as raise money for red tide research, reports the Herald-Tribune. Researchers are exploring the possibilities of using clay particles, selective phages, or ozone gas to help tackle the growing menace.  

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