Dead fish, red tide, plague Florida tourists, beaches

Cristina Cross
August 7, 2018

The Herald-Tribune reports that visitors piled into the parking lot of Venice Beach, got out of their cars, started hacking, coughing and sneezing and then quickly left.

"Over the past week, reports were received for multiple locations in Sarasota County, in Charlotte County, in and offshore of Lee County, and in Collier County".

A bloom of red tide algae has swept in from Naples to Tampa, killing marine life and tourism in its path.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is now examining samples of the algae from different locations along the west coast.

They say almost 300 sea turtles have died since the toxic bloom began in the fall, that's about double the average number.

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Now red tide is causing additional wildlife to wash up on beach shores and begin rotting. "We will continue to support Florida's biologists to study the best ways to combat red tide, and our state wildlife and environmental professionals will aid Florida communities that are being impacted".

County workers are set to clean up the dead fish on Thursday.

"FWC and DEP will enhance cleanup efforts, public awareness initiatives and water testing to ensure that Floridians understand the best ways to minimize the impact of red tide", a press release added.

While biologists are still working to determine the cause of death, if the algae bloom did play a role, it would be the first known incident in which a whale shark has been killed by a bloom. The algae bloom - which gets its name because the microscopic algae often turn water red - has already lasted since November of a year ago, and could stretch into 2019, some scientists are saying.

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