Florida Gov. Rick Scott issues emergency order over red tide

Olive Hawkins
August 15, 2018

Scott issued an executive order providing emergency funding and resources that would help communities rescue and protect wildlife and clean up the pervasive algae.

Florida's Lee County posted warning signs about red tides at about 170 beach access points, the office said, adding that the signs have details on respiratory issues, health precautions, and current beach conditions.

Under the declaration, more than $100,000 will be given to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota to increase local efforts to save animals affected by red tide.

The order extends to Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties are now under a state of emergency due to the toxic algae bloom, and his office added in a statement that "red tide is a naturally occurring algae that has been documented along Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840s and occurs almost every year".

Executive order 18-221 will allocate $1.5 million in funds to state agencies, including $100,000 to Mote Marine Laboratory to assist local scientists in saving distressed animals, $500,000 to the stats's public/private marketing arm Visit Florida to combat the frightful images of dead fish, and $900,000 to Lee County to actually clean up the dead fish.

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Florida is no stranger to red tides. The organisms, typically found in the Gulf of Mexico, produce toxins that can kill fish, marine mammals, turtles and seabirds by interfering with nerve transmission, according to a paper published in Ecotoxicology.

In this Monday Aug. 6, 2018 photo, a dead Snook is shown along the water's edge in Bradenton Beach, Fla.

Since 2017, higher than normal concentrations of the algae blooms have plagued southwest Florida.

While not unprecedented - an 18-month bloom harassed the coast between 2004 and 2006 - Mote Marine staff scientist Tracy Fanara said the red tide has lasted longer into the spring and summer the past three years.

How is red tide affecting Florida? The FWC recommends that swimmers rinse with fresh water if they experience irritation.

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