The Disturbing Case of Red Tide

By: Mimi Anagli

Having lived in the sunshine state for three years, I can attest to the fact that the nature and wildlife of Florida is quite an astonishing sight to see. The Floridian mentality is heavily based on the alluring greenery all around. Hours are spent wasted away in alligator-infested lakes, memories are made in the salted air of the gulf coast, and cultural traditions can be found in the inescapable Spanish moss that hangs above your head where ever you go. Along with Florida’s notorious nature comes its infamous amount of natural disasters and invasive species. The list of Florida’s nature-related issues is endless. One of the issues Florida has been dealing with as of lately is the disturbing case of red tide.

Red tide, also known as green slime, occurs when algal blooms become substantially large. This excess amount of algae leads to harmful toxins being released in the water. This algae can be caused by a number of things, but with this red tide, human waste and pollution are suspected to be a leading cause. The specific toxin being released in Florida’s biggest and longest red tide to date is called Karenia Brevis. It has become so harmful to Florida’s environment and population that a state of emergency has been declared in certain counties within Florida.

The airborne toxin is causing respiratory problems for many people in affected areas. It has been described as similar to being hit with tear gas, or some sort of mild pepper spray. What was once an enjoyable day at the beach or lake for many has now become a day of discomfort and potential illness. For humans, this algae has affected a place of relaxation and enjoyment, but for sea life, the algae has affected their entire world. For them this harmful toxin is unavoidable, they have no choice but to suffer in their own habitat.

Since Florida was hit with this red tide, hundreds of sea turtles, dolphins, manatees, whale sharks, and thousands upon thousands of fish are being found dead washed up on the shore. Florida has been plagued with this disturbing sight for over seventeen months now. Their reputation of clear blue waters and sparkling hot sand will be forever tainted with this epidemic if actions aren’t taken.

 

Works cited:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/16/health/toxic-algae-bloom-health/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/us/algae-toxic-florida-dead-animals-red-tide.html

https://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/redtide/index.htm

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