Sanibel Beach Covered With Sea Creatures Killed by Red Tide

Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission

Credit Mary Harper

The Herald-Tribune reports that visitors piled into the parking lot of Venice Beach, got out of their cars, started hacking, coughing and sneezing and then quickly left. The cause of these awful scenes: A toxic algal bloom known as red tide.

It is believed a combination of coastal pollution and nutrient-laden water being flushed into the warm waters of the gulf from Lake Okeechobee have caused the particularly severe red tide. "It's our entire south Florida coastline with the red tide and then with the blue-green algae on the rivers and canals".

Officials say almost 400 sea turtles have died because of the toxic bloom.

It's so bad that Lee County commissioners declared a local state of emergency and need funding to remove the massive amounts of dead fish. Their movement is dependent upon currents and winds, said Tracy Fanara, a staff scientist and program manager at Mote Marine Labratory & Aquarium in Sarasota.

This is not the first time red tide has been so intense.

While biologists are still working to determine the cause of death, if the algae bloom did play a role, it would be the first known incident in which a whale shark has been killed by a bloom. Red tide is a type of marine algae that undergoes an explosive growth and begins producing toxins. Bill Nelson, a Democrat who is being challenged by Scott in the November election, said Thursday that he has asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine the potential health impacts of exposure to algae that has spread in waterways along both coasts.

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