Florida Gov. Rick Scott declares state of emergency over red tide algae

Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

There's a growing body of evidence, says Escambia County's Robert Turpin, that these red tide events are related to nutrient pollution in the state's waterways. This funding will help Mote Marine deploy additional scientists to assist local efforts to save animals affected by the naturally occurring red tide, including manatees, dolphins and sea turtles.

"I sign the Declaration of emergency to provide considerable funds and resources to communities who are faced with the "red tide", so we can cope with its devastating consequences", said Scott. Red Tide Leads to Glowing Bioluminescent on San Diego Beaches (See Pictures).

The outbreak of Red Tide has become one of the longest-lasting, going on almost a year. While scientists today acknowledge the natural roots of Florida's red tides, they also are investigating the possibility that persistent blooms, like the one besetting the Gulf Coast this summer, might be getting a "booster shot" from man-made pollutants that spill into the ocean.

While the medical effects on humans generally aren't serious, the red tide is affecting the local economy in Florida: Some small businesses have temporarily closed.

For humans, exposure can cause respiratory difficulties, burning eyes and skin irritation. The red tide has made breathing hard for locals, scared away tourists, and strewn popular beaches with the stinking carcasses of fish, eels, porpoises, turtles, manatees and one 26-foot whale shark.

The people who live along the coastal areas of southwest Florida are now experiencing a situation that is detrimental to their health and to the health of those animals that call the waters their home.

Research funding was welcomed by Michael Crosby, president and chief executive of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. But nearly anyone, including me, who has walked a beach where there is a red tide will quickly experience watering eyes, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat.

In Florida, these blooms normally start in October and end in winter, but the current one has persisted, becoming the longest on record since 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina and other storms rocked areas along the Gulf of Mexico.

Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for several counties suffering from the impacts of a prolonged red tide. More than 450 stranded and dead sea turtles have been recovered in four affected counties, and the institute estimates that 250 to 300 died from red tide poisoning.

Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis said those two counties were included because they are considered "at risk" of being hit by the bloom in the near future. They got business from red tide-choked Fort Myers, Siesta Key and Sarasota.

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