Red Tide Kills Thousands Of Fish, Marine Life Along Florida’s Southwest Coast

Dead fish litter a beach in Fort Myers Florida. A lingering red tide off Florida's southwest coast has killed hundreds of fish turtles and other sea life in recent weeks

Dead fish litter a beach in Fort Myers Florida. A lingering red tide off Florida's southwest coast has killed hundreds of fish turtles and other sea life in recent weeks

The sparkling white sand of Florida's southwestern beaches aren't dotted with sunbathers this week.

Experts suggest an excess amount of nutrients, coming from inland Florida and dumping into the Gulf of Mexico from rivers, could be making this year's bloom more persistent.

Red tide is the name given to the blooms of a species of microorganisms that have a distinct red colour.

According to the Miami Herald, Florida has been dealing with one of the worst red tides in decades, leading to many dead fish and marine wildlife.

Florida's southwest coast, a ribbon of inlets and barrier islands normally brimming with wildlife, has become a red tide slaughterhouse this summer. "We're even seeing large loggerhead sea turtles being effected, and that's because this red tide has lasted into the nesting season". Red tide is a type of marine algae that undergoes an explosive growth and begins producing toxins.

The city is issuing a daily "fish kill clean-up" report because of the "unprecedented volume of dead sea life now washing up". The algae bloom - which gets its name because the microscopic algae often turn water red - has already lasted since November of a year ago, and could stretch into 2019, some scientists are saying. Polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee are blamed for the toxic algae problems.

The latest red tide report from the FWC shows high concentrations along the southwest Florida coast.

But the bloom is not only unsafe to marine animals.

Usually, cold spells break up or kill off some of the algae, but not this time.

More than a dozen people have gone to the emergency room after exposure to the blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. "That's due, in part, to having red tide and a very cold winter", said Mezich.

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