The toxic red tide has returned to southwest Florida and now the beaches are full of dead fish. And just like last time, businesses close to the water are going to suffer.
Already the smell of death is plaguing the beaches of Charlotte, Collier, Lee, and Sarasota counties. Scientists have no idea how far it will continue to spread, but it is likely to make its way into the Tampa Bay area.
However, residents in these areas can already tell that this red tide is not nearly as severe as the one that occurred two years ago.
What is Red Tide?
Red tide is when toxic algae, in this case, Karenia Brevis, bloom uncontrollably. Eventually, the algae become so overpopulated in the water, that the water itself becomes red – hence the name.
While the water changing color may not sound like a big deal, let me assure you it is.
This alga is toxic to fish, sea mammals, and even humans. For humans, multiple diseases have been linked to exposure to red tide and eating fish that were exposed to it as well.
However, humans have the luxury of just not going near the ocean at this time. The sea life is not so lucky.
Fish, turtles, manatees, and other sea life end up washed up on the shore, which only adds to the horrific smell.
Where Does It Come From?
Typically, the algae responsible for this phenomenon come from offshore. When they reach shallow warm water, like southwest Florida, it becomes the perfect breeding ground.
On top of the temperature being perfect, nutrients from farms and lawns tend to run off into the water. And I’m sure you can understand that if it can make crops and lawn grow, algae is no different.
These factors combine to allow explosive growth. However, that is not the case this time.
Instead, it appears that the red tide started in the shallows, which goes against what scientists currently know about the phenomenon.
Avoid Red Tide
As a resident of Florida myself, I can assure you that locals avoid it like the plague and so should you. If you have any plans to visit Southwest Florida, never enter the ocean while there is a red tide.