Red Tide kills fish near Florida after its concentration raised to alarming levels. Thousands of dead fish have piled up on the beaches of Pinellas County after they have been contaminated. Manatee and Sarasota counties are also having problems with the red tide.
Red tide is the name given to a phenomenon which turns sea water red after an unusually high concentration of microscopic algae Karenia brevis is infesting the waters. The infestation occurs when Karenia brevis produces strong brevetoxins – some toxins which can kill marine animals and also might have the potential to harm humans. If the algae travel inshore, carried by waves or currents it might cause respiratory problems to swimmers.
Alina Corcoran, a red tide researcher says that the current infestation occurred in the south Pinellas Gulf beaches, in lower Tampa Bay and in Boca Ciega Bay. Concentrations of the toxins varied from low to moderate and even high in some areas of Tampa Bay.
Waves have brought many dead fishes to the beaches these days, including spadefish, catfish, sheepshead, grunt and mullet.
Local people have been reporting respiratory problems like scratchy throats and coughing since Monday.
Specialists are not able to predict how long it will last but they expect it to ‘hang for a while’ after it gets into estuaries and bays.
It seems that Red Tide has been part of Florida’s history for centuries. The first recorded blooms date from the 1500s when they were observed by Spanish explorers. Karenia brevis lives in the Golf of Mexico all year long but it usually stays at insignificant concentrations.
However, from one to a few times a year it multiplies and spreads rapidly, creating a bloom that gives a rusty color to the water and kills small marine creatures.
A big bloom in 2013 along the Southwest Florida coast has killed 200 manatees. The blooms can last from days to even months, being fuelled by nitrate pollution.
On Panhandle beaches a bloom is lasting since September and according to the county’s officials, they have registered 6 tons of dead fish.
A recent bloom in the Mississippi Sound has closed the beaches and all the oyster reefs in Louisiana waters. If it is not unusual for the algae to be found in Texas, Florida and Mexican waters, it is not that often encountered in Louisiana. The oyster farms will be reopened as soon as it’s determined that harvesting is safe again.
Image source: pixabay
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