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

15 August, 2018, 22:25 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

The Governor of Florida issued a state of emergency in response to this year's excessive red tide, the toxic algae bloom spreading across the West Coast of the Sunshine State and leaving beaches covered with piles of dead marine wildlife.

The naturally and frequently occurring marine phenomenon is caused by an influx of microscopic algae called Karenia brevis, which give water a namesake reddish hue. Humans can develop gastrointestinal illness after eating shellfish contaminated with high levels of Karenia brevis, and suffer from respiratory irritation from breathing in toxins produced by the algae, which also result in an acrid odor.

"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.

"I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its awful impacts", said Governor Rick Scott in a statement on Monday.

Along with the emergency order, Scott directed an additional $900,000 in grants for Lee County to clean up red tide impacts, bringing the county's total red tide grant funding to more than $1.3 million. The newly designed system uses ozone to kill the red tide cells, according to a press release from the nonprofit.

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This year's red tide is located from Naples to Anna Maria Island for about 150 miles and seems to be migrating north.

The counties with health and safety concerns include Lee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Collier and Manatee, where the algae bloom has killed fish, turtles, manatees and potentially 11 dolphins and a whale shark, The Tampa Bay Times reports.

Accompanying the emergency declaration is a "significant amount of funding" and "resources", according to Scott's office.

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.

Beachgoers found large fish, turtles, and manatees dead on the coast, and some researchers have blamed red tide.

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