Florida Declares State of Emergency As Toxic Red Tide Causes Respiratory Issues

An official state of emergency has been declared in Florida as there has been some kind of toxic red tide outbreak in Southwest Florida. While this is something that happens ‘naturally’ according to officials, it has already killed manatees and so much more.

Red tide has toxic effects and when it occurs can have drastic effects of marine life. The red tide is basically a toxic algae bloom. This problem is one that was lingering since October, according to USA Today. The affected counties will finally know that things are as bad as they are be getting resources and funds to be able to combat this issue. Red tide for those who do not know affects the central nervous system of aquatic organisms an can lead to respiratory irritation in humans.

The red tide has already killed hundreds of sea turtles, manatees, and millions on millions of pounds of fish thus far. This takes a serious toll on everyone who has to be near it. Many locals have noted respiratory complications but nothing too severe thus far. This comes just a month after another state of emergency was declared in other counties due to blue-green algae outbreaks from Lake Okeechobee discharges, things are not going to be getting better anytime soon as this is no easy problem to fix.

The Washington Post reported as follows on this topic:

Citizens in retirement communities are reporting respiratory distress from the vapors of the microscopic red-tide organism called Karenia brevis. A recent study found a 50 percent spike in hospital visits due to respiratory problems during red-tide blooms.

The red tide has been gradually moving north, to the mouth of Tampa Bay, according to state tracking data. For many places, the daily reports continue to say “Water Color: Dark” and “Respiratory Irritation: Intense.” Worst of all are the reports that state “Dead Fish: Heavy.”

Rick Bartleson, a research scientist with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, said water samples offshore show lethally high concentrations of algae.

“There’s no fish left. Red tide killed them all,” he said. “All of our concentrations of red tide are still high and would still kill fish if they were out there.”

The algae is found in marine environments for most of the year, but the past two months have produced high concentrations, said Kelly Richmond, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The duration of blooms can be affected by sunlight, nutrient and salinity content, she said.

The toxins can aerosolize in the wind that drifts ashore, triggering respiratory problems or worsening conditions such as asthma. That has incited many tourists and some locals to flee.

While this is something being worked incidents of red tides have been increasing for quite some time now. Getting this under control is extremely important. We can only hope that a drastic change occurs very soon that will be enough to kick this terrible situation right out of the bucket but that does not seem very likely.