In the southwest of Florida, an enormous deadly red tide algae bloom from the Gulf of Mexico is heading toward the state. Scientists have tracked it to around 45 miles off the Hernando County coastline. It is being closely monitored as it moves in the water to see where it is going to hit, exactly.
This is the biggest algae bloom that has been seen in Florida in almost 10 years and it has already killed thousands of fish. The bloom, which contains the microbe Karenia brevis, might be considered a public health threat to residents of the state if it washes ashore. This is actually expected to happen in about the next two weeks.
Satellite images show the dangerous algae bloom and it is about 80 miles long and 50 miles wide, which would make it around the same size as the state of Connecticut. However those images are only able to show scientists what is on the surface and on the surface alone.
However researchers are hoping they will be able to find out what is beneath. As was stated above, the algae have already killed thousands of fish. Now, they are going to attempt to figure out if it is going to be harmful to human beings.
Scientists already know that it is going to the southwest, toward the shore and closer to the Florida coastline. If it does end up reaching land, that is when the deadly red tide starts causing much more trouble. The toxins from red tide can get into the air. If so and a person happens to be on the beach, the poisons can spread around a mile inland if the bloom is very near to the shore. That can cause respiratory problems in humans.
Lyngbia, which is another rare algae bloom, has the possibility to create red tide. This has been remaining on the shores of Pine Island, Sanibel and Fort Myers and has left investigators with two new fears they hope to alleviate in the lab. Even if they are unable to pinpoint exactly what has caused both types of red algae blooms, what the scientists do in the test centers just may enable them to get that much quicker to an answer.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission stated that the tide is approximately 45 to 50 miles from the shoreline. Besides the dead small fish, the state is also starting to get reports from Florida residents of thousands of other creatures that are also either dead or dying being discovered. They range from bull sharks and jellyfish to octopus.
Red tide, which happens in various other shoreline regions as well, is an occurrence that has been happening for centuries. It occurs when a naturally arising algae bloom goes out of control and begins producing poisons that are deadly to fish and also other sea life.
The chemicals that are released from the algae do not have an odor. They are also what colors the water red and also can cause respiratory disorders in people as was mentioned before. Some of the symptoms include wheezing and coughing. However the red tide is a much higher health risk to animals.
It was just 2013 that a red tide bloom which was smaller than this one, but nearer to the shore, killed nearly 280 endangered and vulnerable Florida manatees. The algae contaminate sea grasslands that the marine mammals dine on, upsetting their nervous systems and in the end causing them to drown.
In Florida, researchers are watching the red tide bloom that is heading from the Gulf of Mexico. They have tracked it to about 45 miles off the Hernando County coastline.
By Kimberly Ruble