Algae blooms, or algal blooms, are large influxes of algae growth in bodies of water. Harmful algae blooms, called HABs, can cause serious damage to the ecosystems of ponds, lakes, and even the ocean. A algae bloom called the “red tide” in southwest Florida is wreaking havoc on the life in the area. It’s killed thousands of marine animals, including fish, sea birds, and even larger creatures like manatees and sea turtles.
Usually, red tides only plague Florida and Texas for a few months a year. According to CNN, this year’s red tide has lasted over nine months. This makes it the longest HAB since the one following Hurricane Katrina in 2006. Some have theorized that Hurricane Irma is behind this disturbingly long bloom. Because the winds and rain pick up and re-deposit nutrients in other areas, it creates the perfect atmosphere for algae blooms.
Over 100 miles of shoreline have been affected, and beaches are littered with dead wildlife. Visitors can hardly walk on the sand without tiptoeing over dead fish and other marine animals. While not all algae blooms are bad, this one is seriously impacting the ecosystem of Florida’s coast — and officials don’t know when it’s going to end.
Animal life isn’t the only thing harmed by the algae bloom, however. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), humans can suffer effects of the red tide as well. The algae can release toxins into the air that can then cause irritation of the eyes, respiratory issues, and even asthma.
Because of the decomposing animals and health risks, the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, called an emergency order. According to FLGov, he also issued a statement.
“Now, since we are facing more harmful algal blooms from federal water releases, the state is taking a multifaceted approach to protect families. We will stop at nothing to solve this problem – our families deserve nothing less.”
While the government is working on protecting human life, wildlife officials are trying to save animal populations affected by the red tide. Veterinarians are hard at work rehabilitating the creatures found alive, and they are trying to slow down the deaths in any way possible.
Algae blooms may happen often, but this one is proving to be quite dangerous for the wildlife in the area. While human intervention can only go so far, many organizations and individuals are doing their best to alleviate the issue.