Toxic 'red tide' algae blooms are killing fish, turtles, and manatees in Florida - here's what it looks like and why it's happening
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
View all Offers
OnePlus Nord 2 5G (Blue Haze, 8GB RAM, 128GB Storage) I Extra upto Rs.1000 off on Exchange₹ 29999Buy On
OnePlus Nord 2 5G (Gray Sierra, 8GB RAM, 128GB Storage) I Extra upto Rs.1000 off on Exchange₹ 29999Buy On
- 18% OFF
Redmi 9A (Nature Green, 2GB RAM, 32GB Storage) | 2GHz Octa-core Helio G25 Processor | 5000 mAh Battery₹ 6999₹ 8499Buy On
- 19% OFF
Redmi Note 10 (Aqua Green, 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage) -Amoled Dot Display | 48MP Sony Sensor IMX582 | Snapdragon 678 Processor₹ 12999₹ 15999Buy On
- 18% OFF
Redmi 9 (Carbon Black, 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage) | 2.3GHz Mediatek Helio G35 Octa core Processor₹ 8999₹ 10999Buy On
Ocean observers at Florida's Mote Marine lab say this year's red tide is not a record-breaker yet, but it is the most persistent algae bloom they've seen in roughly a decade.Take a look at why it's happening and which creatures are dying because of the algae.
The sea algae that creates red tides, Karenia brevis, floats around in the Gulf of Mexico all the time. But with some additional nutrients, a sprinkle of wind, and ocean currents that flow just the right way, the algae can develop into larger toxic, oxygen-suffocating blooms.
Red tides kill fish by producing a powerful brevetoxin that harms their central nervous system. "Ultimately, fish die because their gills stop functioning," the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explains on its website.
In addition to suffocating fish, the algae confuses sea turtles and kills manatees that mistakenly eat contaminated sea grass. Birds that eat contaminated prey also suffer.
Blooms can also kill shrimp, sponges, sea urchins, crabs and shellfish.
This algae bloom first started drifting toward the Gulf coast of Florida in October and November 2017.
Scientists at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota say Florida's red tide algae blooms usually crop up between 10 and 40 miles offshore, then drift inland.
Over the past nine months, the blooms have multiplied and inundated the southern Gulf coast of the state.
Near the shore, the algae mixes with stormwater runoff and nitrogen and phosphorous waste from fertilizers. The algae feeds on these chemicals, further fueling the blooms.
Besides all the rotting fish, the algae's gruesome toll this year includes at least 266 stranded sea turtles, 92 dead manatees, and a 26-foot whale shark carcass.
The shore smells terrible. But people can face worse consequences of the blooms.
People who breathe in the air around red tides can suffer coughing, sneezing, and teary eyes. Swimmers can develop irritated skin and burning eyes.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in seven counties lining the southwestern coast earlier this week.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has pledged $3 million in grant money for the cleanup so far.
Intoxicated sea turtles who eat contaminated food swim in circles, loose coordination, and suffer muscle twitches. Some dazed turtles get stranded on the shore, while others drown because they can't lift their heads to the surface to breathe.
The lucky turtles are found before they die and get sent inside for checkups and rehab. It can take up to 50 days to flush out all the toxins from a turtle's system.
The reasons that algae blooms develop are complex. They've been documented around the Gulf of Mexico since the 1700s, but there's some evidence that K. brevis will be able to grow faster as carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increase. That means that in a warming world, algae may be able to bloom in warmer waters and become more potent and powerful.
Scientists used to release copper sulfate into the water to curb red tides, but they've discovered that's toxic to marine life, too. So researchers are working on more sustainable ways to control algae using clay. But there's no quick fix yet.
- Punjab to bring Bill to earmark welfare budget for SCs in proportionate to their population
- High Pressure car washer price in India
- Best boAt headphones to buy in India
- Nothing ear (1) review – clean sound, transparent design for the win
- Oppo Reno 6 Pro 5G to A74 5G: Oppo smartphones launched in India in 2021