Today I took a walk along the intracoastal waterway in St,Pete beach. There were local fishermen collecting dead fish from their boats with hand nets. A local news crew was filming them. I stopped to talk to one of the crew members. One of the cameraman informed me that Fresh Water Fish and Game had organized volunteers to remove the carcass's from the water so local fishermen were doing just that. Large waste bags that are obtained at designated locations may be used to hold the fish so they can be removed easily from the boats. This particular cameraman had been from South Sarasota to Clearwater recording the algae blooms effect on the sea life.
If you live along the Gulf Coast of Florida you most likely are aware of the Red Tide affecting portions of the southwest coast. Karenia brevis red tide produces toxins that can kill fish, sea turtles, manatees, and dolphins. Visit "red tide status website" for more. You may be asking how long will this last. As I walked the beach and saw first hand all of the different kind of species washed ashore, I was sure that mankinds continual pollution of the earth must be at least part of the culprit. The truth in fact is that red tides have been recorded all the way back to the 1700's along Florida's Gulf Coast and again in the 1840's. Fish kills near Tampa Bay were even recorded by Spanish explorers. This particular red tide is reported to be especially persistent and harmful. They can last from a few weeks to longer than a year. This one started last fall in October. They can even subside and then reoccur. In 2005, for example, a bloom started off the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida, in January and then spread from there to Pensacola and Naples by October, persisting for the majority of the year. The duration of a bloom in nearshore Florida waters depends on physical and biological conditions that influence its growth and persistence, including sunlight, nutrients, and salinity, as well as the speed and direction of wind and water currents. Researchers are watching oceanographic conditions in the region carefully and using forecasting tools similar to seasonal weather forecasts to predict how long this bloom will last.
This year’s bloom is different from what we’ve seen before in several ways:
Timing: Blooms of this alga typically start in late summer or early fall. The last large early summer bloom was in 2005. The current bloom started last fall and is still going.
Duration: While not unprecedented in its duration, this bloom is unusually persistent. It started in October 2017 and continued through spring of 2018. By early summer, the bloom resurged and was detected in five southwest Florida counties. Some shellfish harvesting areas have been closed since November 2017.
Size: The size of the bloom changes from week to week, and it is patchy. Not every beach is affected every day, so it is important to stay up to date with the NOAA conditions report. As of August 15, the bloom stretched from Pinellas County to Collier County, more than 150 miles.
This summers red tide has already caused the death of many sea turtles. On my walk on St.Pete Beach I spotted several Moray Eels and Spotted Trout washed up. In places like Longboat Key, more than 5 tons of dead fish have been removed by volunteers from the beaches. Nine dead dolphin were found in Manatee County. The bloom that began in October stretches 150 miles and is affecting areas from Naples northward and is also moving north. Monday Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency due to it's impact.
Take a look at this video for more information