The Red Tide continues to sweep over the West Coast of Florida, notably the beaches of Sarasota, leading to detrimental effects not only for marine species but for humans as well.
Red Tides occur when man-made pesticides and chemicals are washed into the ocean, creating toxic algal blooms which may make shellfish inedible, kill marine wildlife, and cause respiratory problems in humans. Climate change has also played a role in the phenomenon as scientists have concluded that this form of algae thrives in warmer waters. The global warming aspect has not been recognized as a likely culprit for the spread of the tide because the Red Tide occurs yearly. Warm waters have made this most recent outbreak of the tide the most lethal yet, killing over 2000 tons of marine animals along the Florida coast since it started in November 2017. Tourism has taken a hit and businesses have shut down due to the consequences of the toxicity accumulating in these beaches.
“The algal blooms on both coasts are always an issue during rainy reasons where a lot of nutrients wash into the ocean and provide the necessary nutrients for life. The effects on us people is awful; earaches, respiratory issues, etc. I would say to avoid the beach at all costs during any large scale boom,” Gina Sese said.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, during his first year of office, cut out 700 million dollars from the five water management districts in Florida. The South Florida Water Management District, whose mission includes to restore the Everglades, has taken the biggest hit out of this action. Involved with many bills that oppose raising the water quality, Scott only has recently started to take action. Other candidates in office have started to discuss Florida’s pressing issue, causing the rapid approval of many projects. This year, Scott has responded by declaring a state of emergency and has set aside 1.5 million dollars to fund cleanups and further rehabilitation efforts.
Despite these plans for future ocean conservation, the extent of the tide has been largely due to the amount of pollution in our oceans along with blatant disregard from the public for how deeply it is affecting us, especially on our own neighboring beaches.
As of today, there has been a wave of support towards conserving our oceans, with the elimination of plastic straws from companies such as Starbucks and increasing availability of reusable straws.
Regardless, the majority of the population fails to realize how much climate change is altering the state of our land and waters and that the length of this Red Tide has not been anything short of unnatural. As a community, we need to take action and gather all our resources, or else the failure to acknowledge human beings’ role in this continual decimation of Florida’s beaches is only going to aid this Red Tide in making headway to other parts of the state, and possibly, America’s remaining untouched beaches.