Red Tide Grows Unabated in Southwest Florida, But Leaves Everglades Unaffected this Year

October 17 01:00 2018

October 16, 2018 – A silent killer is on the prowl on the southwest coast of Florida. The outbreak of an algae called Karenia brevis has brought about a natural occurrence known as the Red Tide. The victim is marine life, mostly sea turtles, manatees and even dolphins. As a consequence nature tourism in the state too has taken a hit this year.

The Red Tide of 2018 is a massive blooming of algae, and though the bloom is a seasonal occurrence, this outbreak has broken the records. Intensified by releases from Lake O, it is nothing short of a natural disaster, having killed 605 sea turtles (with 120 stranded) in seven counties, and hundreds of manatees, fish and other wildlife as per reports. Among them are 22 dolphins, though not all of these deaths can be attributed to the Red Tide. The numbers are twice the five-year average as per reports from the Mote Marine Lab.

Algal blooms are a result of colonies of algae growing exponentially, which in turn produces toxic materials such as the poisonous phytoplankton, Karenia brevis. The phytoplankton can kill marine life, and affect birds and even people, including polluting the surrounding air.

Such blooms are found in the Gulf of Mexico every year, usually in late summer or early fall. In Florida, the blooms are usually found off the central and southwestern coasts of Florida between Clearwater and Sanibel Island. They can reach to the north right up to North Carolina. A typical bloom lasts 3-5 months, but can last even 18 months and affect thousands of quarter miles. Latest research reveals that Florida red tides start in nutrient-poor water about 11-46 miles offshore.

Given the consequent ecological destruction and the decline in tourism, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott announced a state of emergency in August. Critics have however pointed to Scott’s decision to slash Florida’s water management budget by hundreds of millions, a factor that may have allowed the disaster to proceed uninterrupted. Scott has accordingly earned the nickname, ‘Red Tide Rick’ from his opponents.

One region that has escaped the havoc is Everglades. The bloom has remained towards the north and offshore, though in the past Everglades too has witnessed the red tide.

Data generated through traditional environmental sampling, in combination with data generated through newer approaches such as remote sensing and modeling, may give scientists the ability to forecast red tides and potentially mitigate their effects.

We have been very lucky on this one because it has been in the Everglades in years past. There has been no sign of it and the fishing continues to be excellent. The bait is everywhere which keeps the gamefish close. Hopefully we start getting some cold fronts and that will help kill the red tide to the north,” says Captain Jason Sullivan.

Captain James Sulllivan of Rising Tide Charter is a native of South Florida and full time Everglades fishing guide. James has spent his entire life fishing in the Miami/South Florida region, and is today an Orvis endorsed guide specializing in fly fishing and light tackle fishing for tarpon, redfish, snook, trout and other marine life. James’ Hells Bay Skiff can be seen all over South Florida, giving a personalized and professional fishing experience to his customers.

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Company Name: Rising Tides Charter
Contact Person: Jason Sullivan
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Phone: (954) 864-0592
Address:8910 SW 68th Ct
City: Miami
State: FL 33156
Country: United States