Beachgoers in Panama City Beach were greeted by a grisly sight as Thousands of dead fish spanning the coastline.
The killer? Red tide.
While red tide this far north is less common than in the south, FSU Oceanographer Dr. Jeff Chanton says it’s nothing new.
“The red tide organism was first observed here in the 1500s by the Spanish explorers,” said Chanton.
The blooms are caused by high nutrient levels in the water. While they can occur naturally, scientists believe the length and severity of the outbreaks have increased due to human use of fertilizers.
Southwest Florida has been experiencing red tide since last October.
“The fish of the Gulf of Mexico suffer terribly because of this. Seabirds suffer because of this. It’s a very disturbing thing,” said Chanton.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it’s investigating whether the red tide in south Florida spread north, or if the outbreak in the Panhandle is a separate, unrelated incident.
Jonathan Webber with Florida Conservation Voters says whether or not the outbreaks are connected, the worsening situation calls for action from the state.
Courtesy of wjhg.com
Red tide is officially impacting Pinellas County. Crews have picked up a total of 33.48 tons of dead fish and hauled them off to the county dump.
Tests conducted Monday show the highest levels of the toxic algae bloom near John’s Pass and Madeira Beach. Low levels were also found near the Bellair Boat Ramp and Sand Key near Clearwater Pass.
On Monday, less than a dozen people lounged on chairs on the beach directly across from John’s Pass as county crews and contractors hired by Pinellas County worked to clear the sand on land and in the water.
Crews tell us ABC Action News they’ve scooped up hundreds of thousands of dead fish.
Alex King with Lil Mo’s Marine Cleanup says his crew of more than 30 people is working to be proactive. The team, which is based out of Southwest Florida, is using several vessels to net the fish before they wash onto shore. The boats have a built-in skimming device that helps rake in fish floating on the surface of the ocean.
“We’re trying to stop them before they wash onto the beach or into people’s docks. Pinellas County’s approach is different from any red tide cleanup in history because it is much more proactive,” King explained.
That’s uplifting for Pinellas County businesses near the beach, including those in John’s Pass.
Courtesy of abcactionnews.com
Red tide is in full force, and it doesn’t look like it is going away any time soon.
On Thursday afternoon, downtown Sarasota smelled of rotten fish, even several miles away from the beach. This isn’t the first day it has smelled like that either, residents say.
Much like the rest of Sarasota, the stench was strong at the downtown Hyatt Regency at 1000 Boulevard of the Arts.
“The smell has been around for a couple of weeks,” said the hotel’s general manager, Marcia Dmochowski-Clark. “Yesterday I was on St. Armand’s for lunch and people were eating outside … I don’t know how they can do that.”
But Dmochowski-Clark did say that the hotel has been using an anchored buoy system to keep the piles of fish away from the marina and pool.
Courtesy of bradenton.com
Florida’s southwest coast, a ribbon of inlets and barrier islands normally brimming with wildlife, has become a red tide slaughterhouse this summer.
Dead fish by the thousands have clogged inlets and canals. Since Sunday, 10 dead Goliath grouper, the massive reef fish that can live four decades or more, have floated to the surface. At least 90 sea turtles have been found stranded as the tide stretches well into nesting season. And Tuesday, as hundreds of residents packed a standing-room-only Cape Coral yacht club to hear about the federal government’s efforts to deal with water conditions, a dead manatee washed up at a nearby boat ramp.
The list goes on: earlier this month the carcass of a whale shark was found on a Sanibel beach with red tide in its muscles, liver, intestines and stomach. Hundreds of double-breasted cormorants, brown pelicans and other seabirds have been sickened or died.
Coupled with a massive blue-green algae bloom that spread across Lake Okeechobee and snaked down the Caloosahatchee River in June, the dire conditions have infuriated businesses and residents, and drawn national attention to the normally quiet tourist towns.
“This is horrific what we’re enduring now, but it needs to be a wake-up call to people that clean water is important to more than just wildlife,” said Heather Barron, a veterinarian and research director at Sanibel’s CROW Clinic wildlife rescue center, which began treating poisoned birds as early as October. “As the person dealing with all these hundreds of dying animals, I’m upset.”
Courtesy of miamiherald.com
Mass fish kill ‘due to red tide’ washes up in Englewood, Florida, USA