Florida Declares Emergency As Red Tide Blooms

BREAKING: State of emergency declared over Florida's red tide

But this year has been a hard one for the typically stunning Florida coast.

Gov. Rick Scott, a man who over the past eight years cut almost $700 million from Florida's environmental agencies (many of whom oversee algae outbreaks) declared a state of emergency today to combat our current algae outbreak.

The blooms discolor the seawater and produce toxins that can sicken or kill fish, seabirds, turtles and marine mammals, such as manatees, according to the FWC.

Most people aren't affected by swimming in red tide-infested waters, but skin irritation may occur. The animals can inhale the toxins through the air or become affected by consuming toxic prey.

"I am also directing a further $900,000 in grants for Lee County to clean up impacts related to red tide -- bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million", Scott said. For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness.

Tourists and residents alike have been chased away from Florida's famous beaches by an ominous-sounding ecological occurrence: red tide. The first recorded instances were in the 1840s, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. "Red tide relies on a variety of different factors, kind of like a ideal storm". Here's what to know about red tide in Florida.

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The latest bloom coincided with the spawning season for snook, an ecologically important and popular game fish in Florida, Crosby said. Others believe that human-made nutrients that are increasing the algal blooms.

Red tide has been documented in Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840s and naturally occurs every year, but it usually subsides in the summer and has instead continued to worsen in its 10th month, prompting the executive order. Why aren't state leaders asking for help?

Microscopic karenia bravis cells create a ghastly panorama when they burst into life, turning the seas blood red and spelling doom for marine creatures great and small throughout infected coastal waters, coves and inlets.

"We're going to have it for a lot longer", Jim Beever, planner and climate expert at the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, told News-Press.

It remains to be seen whether a single year of altered wind patterns will turn out to be an isolated deviation or part of more long-term changes in climate, Stumpf said.

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