Research

Red Tide kills thousands of fish in Siesta Key

Red Tide kills thousands of fish in Siesta Key

Red tide, which refers to higher than normal algae blooms of the organism Karenia brevis, happens nearly annually and has been a natural occurrence for centuries.

Red tide is the name given to the blooms of a species of microorganisms that have a distinct red colour.

Lee County has paired with private contractors to begin removing dead fish from its beaches, but officials warned that it could be a long and ongoing process.

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Frequent, strong weather systems can help to break up the bloom.

"This is horrific what we're enduring now, but it needs to be a wake-up call to people that clean water is important to more than just wildlife", Sanibel's Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife veterinarian Heather Barron told the Miami Herald.

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"FWC will deploy additional scientists to assist local efforts to save animals affected by the naturally occurring red tide".

The harmful effects are caused by toxins that are released when the organism dies, so killing the algae would produce even more toxins in the water. Respiratory irritation and murky clumps of red drift algae have been reported from Collier to Sarasota counties.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is now examining samples of the algae from different locations along the west coast.

To report any dead or sick animal, contact FWC's wildlife alert hotline at 1-888-404-3922. The FWC also explains the carcasses are valuable for a cause of death determination and understanding marine health threats.

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