Toll from worst S.W. Florida red tide in decade grows

Beaches at Boca Grande have been affected

"With this year's red tide being more substantial than previous years, we must do everything we can to help minimize its harm to our water and wildlife".

Experts suggest an excess amount of nutrients, coming from inland Florida and dumping into the Gulf of Mexico from rivers, could be making this year's bloom more persistent.

The state wildlife agency says red tide, a type of algae, has been a naturally occuring phenomenon along Florida's Gulf Coast since at least the 1840s and that blooms occur almost every year in the Gulf of Mexico. "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". It's toxic, too: Reports of red tide first were reported in November 2017, and at least 400 stranded and dead sea turtles have been pulled from Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota county waters since, according to the Naples News-Press.

The Miami Herald reported the blue-green algae outbreak had grabbed national attention.

The Florida red tide organism, known as Karenia Brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die.

Most algae blooms are beneficial to the ocean, providing a source of food for marine creatures.

To humans, breathing in air containing the toxic algae can cause people to suffer from tearing eyes and frequent coughing and sneezing.

Usually, cold spells break up or kill off some of the algae, but not this time.

The blooms are killing fish and marine life.

As part of the directive, the conservation commission will assist local efforts to save animals affected by red tide.

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