Florida Declares State Of Emergency As Red Tide Spreads

Sen. Bill Nelson D-Fla. speaks during a roundtable discussion with education leaders from South Florida at the United Teachers of Dade headquarters Monday Aug. 6 2018 in Miami

"At Gov. Rick Scott's direction, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has mobilized all available resources to mitigate naturally occurring red tide, and executive director Eric Sutton has waived rules through an executive order to expedite the removal of dead fish", a FWC press release reads. Piles of dead fish have been found along the West Coast of Florida.

The red tide ― a harmful bloom of algae that occurs naturally ― began previous year and has spread through the Gulf of Mexico, now spanning some 150 miles.

"As Southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area continues to feel the devastating impacts of red tide, we will continue taking an aggressive approach by using all available resources to help our local communities", Scott said. Part of the reason why the red tide is so prominent this season is because there are some leftover blooms from previous year, Bob Weisberg, a professor of physical oceanography at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science, told ABC News.

More than $100,000 in additional funding to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to increase its response to red tide impacts.

VISIT FLORIDA will also create a $500,000 emergency grant program to assist local tourism development boards in counties affected by the naturally-occurring red tide.

Florida's 10-month-long red tide outbreak has recently intensified, killing thousands of pounds of fish, as well as wildlife including dolphins, sea turtles and a whale shark, NPR reports.

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The state's Department of Health issues beach warnings to impacted areas.

Red tides occur on an nearly yearly basis off Florida, starting out in the Gulf of Mexico where swarms of microscopic algae cells called Karenia brevis feed on deep-sea nutrients and are sometimes carried by currents close to shore, usually in the fall.

"I called on the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to help with the algae & red tide crisis here in Florida", Nelson tweeted.

"We will continue taking an aggressive approach by using all available resources to help our local communities", the governor wrote in the state of emergency declaration on August 13. Why aren't state leaders asking for help? The current intensity and duration of red tide is something Florida has not experienced since 2006.

"It's a bad bloom by any standard", said Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer who studies red tides for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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