The current outbreak of Red tide along Florida’s gulf coast is turning into one of the longest and most damaging in the state’s history. Tons of fish and marine life have washed ashore because of the strangling toxic algae that has been making life miserable for everyone. Not only is the wildlife being negatively affected, but people are forsaking the beach due to the smell of rotting fish, murky waters, and poor air quality that causes breathing issues. The negative impact is being seen across the coast with businesses seeing a dramatic drop in patronage as well as large amounts of canceled reservations for sea-side restaurants, hotels, and beach activities.
Red tide is the result of a bloom of toxic algae created usually by an overabundance of nutrients in the water. Although these types of occurrences can be natural, the red tide at this extreme is often blamed on runoff from agricultural activity. That is the phosphorous and nitrogen rich fertilizers and other products used in agriculture. Algae blooms are created when the algae feeds on the nutrients. The toxins created by these algae have killed all manner of sea creatures, not just fish. Sea Turtles, Manatees, dolphins, and other wildlife have all been found washed ashore along Florida’s coast.
How long will the red tide last?
The truth is that there is no immediate answer for this question. Red tides can last for weeks or years, it all depends on the environment. Unfortunately, the red tide along Florida’s coast shows no signs of going away anytime soon, impacting tourism and other industries that the coast relies on. There is no known way to stop or control the red tide from spreading, so we are in the unfortunate situation of waiting it out.
Algae bloom exist in more than just the red tide variety. You can also see algae blooms in local ponds, as well as the toxic blue-green algae bloom working its way through Florida’s inland waters. With all these situations in mind, it’s important to keep track of how we are contributing. Being aware of chemicals that end up going into our stormwater system and understanding that they eventually make their way through rivers, lakes, and ultimately the ocean is one step in making sure that we are not negatively contributing to the problem. Things like Agricultural runoff, and the chemicals from a thousand lawns seems like a large barrier to cross, but if we keep ourselves aware of what harms our environment we work towards keeping our water cleaner going forward.