Mote crews spread thin as red tide continues

Cesar Mills
August 17, 2018

This additional funding includes "more than $100,000 for Mote Marine Laboratory and $500,000 for VISIT FLORIDA to establish an emergency grant program to help local communities continue to bring in the visitors that support so many Florida families and businesses", Scott said.

The declaration will provide $1.5 million in emergency funding and make state scientists available to help with clean-up efforts and animal rescues. That will push red tide northward along beaches on Florida's coastline.

Indeed, scientists and historians note fish kills triggered by the infestations dating back as early as the 1500s.

Both the coastal red tide and the inland blue-green algae have beset south Florida through the summer, killing vast numbers of fish and other wildlife, including dozens of dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, sharks and eels. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, these toxic algal blooms happen almost every summer along the Gulf Coast.

As dead fish continue to wash onto shorelines across southwest Florida, a portion of the money will also go to examining snook fisheries.

The blooms from the lake are different from the well-known red tide blooms, but some activists question if the mix of nutrients and algae flowing out of Lake Okeechobee are making the red tide worse.

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WLRN-TV reports that the removing phosphorus from water is the way to cut down on the blooms, but it's a timely process and requires 60,000 acres of shallow reservoirs just to treat a small portion of the water that flows out of Lake Okeechobee. Lee County will use this additional funding to enhance the county's efforts to clean local waterways from impacts caused by red tide.

For reasons not well understood, strong northerly winds that normally break up a red tide by December failed to materialize last winter, Stumpf said.

Most people aren't affected by swimming in red tide-infested waters, but skin irritation may occur.

It's hard to predict how long the red tide will remain; it could persist through 2019. The current intensity and duration of red tide is something Florida has not experienced since 2006.

The latest bloom coincided with the spawning season for snook, an ecologically important and popular game fish in Florida, Crosby said. Just like with red tide, treatment isn't easy.

"I called on the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to help with the algae & red tide crisis here in Florida", Nelson tweeted.

Other reports by GizPress

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