There has been a rise in the levels of Red Tide, an algae bloom, in Southwest Florida. These harmful algal blooms have been found at beaches around the region, causing respiratory irritation to individuals who are exposed to the bloom. Some health officials are recommending people avoid the beach. Symptoms of respiratory infection, like coughing and wheezing, can occur when exposure to the algae is prolonged. If you are experiencing respiratory irritation, you can get information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The red tide is most prevalent between Clearwater and Sanibel Island, but it also travels through areas throughout southwest Florida. Scientists have identified factors that cause the blooms to spread. Hurricanes and upwelling events have been found to contribute to the blooms. A recent study shows that fertilizers and nutrient pollution are closely related to the algal blooms.
Tracy Fanara, a researcher at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, has been studying the effects of red tide for the past seven years. She has compiled a map of Karenia brevis, the organism that produces red tide. This year’s bloom has been exceptionally devastating. It has killed at least 100 tons of sea creatures.
In addition to the red tide, there has been a rise in respiratory problems in local hospitals. According to the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the risk of respiratory irritation from the algae could last for at least 36 hours. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of respiratory irritation, it may be difficult to tell if you have the condition. You might also experience a mild case of the common cold.
The red tide is feeding on the nutrients found on the sea bottom. During upwelling events, the algae blooms will move toward the shore. hurricanes and other weather events have been shown to influence the level of red tide in Tampa Bay. Currently, scientists believe the increase in rainfall and nutrient-laden runoff from Hurricane Ian has helped the blooms.
The Florida Department of Health issued an alert in Sarasota County, stating that the level of red tide has risen and is threatening the public’s health. The warning was issued for the city of Sarasota and its surrounding areas. People with severe respiratory conditions are advised to avoid the area, as well as any beaches where they may be affected by the algal bloom.
The red tide has affected beaches in Pinellas and Manatee counties, as well. Several fish kills have been reported in the northern section of the region. While these are not common during the red tide, they are being reported as they occur. Among the fish kills are tilapia, mullet, tarpon, ladyfish and catfish.
The presence of the dead fish is not always an indication of a red tide, but it does indicate that the bloom is moving closer to Tampa Bay’s coastline. Locals are hoping that the water will be hospitable again soon.
Several environmental groups and other local stakeholders are partnering to improve the conditions of the water. A public workshop on October 5 will provide residents and businesses with a chance to discuss ways to make the water healthier.