The Red Tide algae bloom outbreak that now rapidly spreads along the Gulf Coast has turned into a major concern for environmentalists.
With the lingering bloom reaching Anna Maria Island last week, leaving dead fish covering the beach, many wonder if Tampa Bay is next? A report on Sunday noted some dead crabs and fish had washed up on shore near Bayshore Boulevard and Bay to Bay Boulevard.
As concerns about Red Tide grow, Salt Pines will host Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council biologist Ryan Rindone to discuss its impact on Florida's waters, animals and people on Tuesday (Aug 14) from 6 to 8 p.m. The Hyde Park Village sporting life clothing store is located at 1503 W Swann Ave.
Rindone could not say whether it will reach Tampa since Red Tide can bloom in any body of salt water, but he aims to educate residents in case they are faced with it.
"It doesn't do any good to worry about it right now because we don't know where it's going to go, but we should be cautious about it" he said. "It's possible the Red Tide can come up in Tampa Bay, but anywhere the water is too fresh like the Hillsborough River, we won't see it there. If it's going to appear, it'll be off the beach before it moves out to the bay."
The bloom has moved steadily north over the past several weeks and could impact Pinellas County. It's a rising worry for tourists and local beach lovers. Tampa's tourist officials also are paying close attention.
"We aren't a beach destination, so we don't expect to see an impact in the same way as our neighbors directly on the coast," said Patrick Harrison, Visit Tampa Bay's chief marketing officer.
"However, as a vacation destination anything that affects the Florida environment is something we worry about, because it can create a poor perception. We continue to monitor the situation and hope it improves quickly, since clean water and outdoor areas are vital to the state's tourism efforts."
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in Florida, the species that causes most Red Tides is Karenia brevis, and dense blooms of this harmful algae can cause low dissolved oxygen that fish need to survive. Once it disperses into the water, it releases toxins that enter the bloodstream of a fish and clogs its gills used to breathe which rapidly suffocates and kills them.
Red Tide has also reportedly killed a number of sea mammals and more than 400 sea turtles. It can affect humans as well.
Rindone describes it as a multi-faceted problem and warns those with respiratory problems like asthma to avoid places where Red Tide is high or where they see dead fish because it causes coughing, throat irritation, and in some cases leads to medical attention.
According to the biologist, Red Tides are essentially small algae cells that can swim. They originate offshore and are carried towards shorelines by currents. There, they begin absorbing sunlight and nutrients in the water and start to "bloom" into shore, but these blooms can die out within a few months or weeks from the heavy rains of a hurricane or severe tropical storm because they rely on minimal water movement, lots of sunlight and nutrients.
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Red Tide appears discolored in a red or brown hue, or even sometimes pink. For more information or to track the bloom visit myfwc.com/research/redtide.
Contact Monique Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org.