Severe Florida Algal Bloom Destroys Wildlife

An algal bloom just off the coast of Florida is destroying massive amounts of wildlife. Across beaches in the Tampa area, dead sea creatures litter the sand. Residents have also noticed particularly thick and foggy waters by the beach. One resident, Maya Burke, described the scene, “It’s significant numbers of dead fish all up and down the food chain, from small forage fish all the way up to tarpon, manatees, dolphins. … If it’s swimming in the bay, right now it’s washing up dead.”

In humans, severe algal blooms can cause respiratory damage, but for sea creatures, or other wildlife depending on these waters for survival, algal blooms are deadly. Officials are currently pushing cleanup efforts. The presence of more dead animals could further worsen the bloom, as algae feeds on Nitrogen released from the decaying animals. Around 600 tons of marine life have been removed from the shores since June.

Various industries are also being stunted by the red tide ­­­­– particularly fishing and tourism. Tyler Capella operates a fishing charter business and shared with CBS News, “It’s devastating. My worst fears have come true. I mean, this is an absolute nightmare.” 

In Florida, red tides do occur naturally, but they have been occurring more severely, and more frequently due to human activity. Typically, blooms in this region occur in the fall and winter. Summer blooms like this one are highly unusual.

The severe red tide is likely a result of human activity, and more will likely occur in the future due to increased water temperatures brought on by climate change. Pollution is also a key factor contributing to this bloom. Chairman of Mana-Sota 88 said in a press release: “The current red tide outbreak clearly demonstrates Florida is not doing enough to hold polluters accountable for their actions,”  and many are urging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to call a state of emergency so the government can fund a cleanup effort. 

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