This past year several parts of the Florida coast suffered greatly from the effects of the Red Ride algae blooms - a season of suffering so bad and unusually long that scientists were calling it the worst they have seen in a decade. Just when people started to believe the oceans were finally safe from this devastating natural occurrence, it seems to be making news headlines again, and some locals are questioning if it really ever left.
CBS News posted a news story yesterday stating that a "rare" winter Red Tide has returned in the Fort Myers area, again threatening the local ecosystem, wildlife, and even local fishermen's businesses. This year alone the bloom has claimed the lives of hundreds of manatees, sea turtles, dolphins, fish and more, while also causing respiratory, skin, and even neurological problems in humans.
Considering that Red Tide bloom usually begins in the late summer or early autumn and lasts until early spring, this totally debunks the all-too-common myth that cold ocean water will fix the problem. This occurrence is definitely anything but rare.
While it appeared as though red tide may have "reappeared" in the Fort Myers area, it likely never disappeared but instead laid dormant or not abundant enough to be a threat to the local ecosystem. The cells responsible for causing the blooms are opportunistic and wait until the right conditions allow them to bloom again, and conditions this year on the Gulf Coast have been nearly perfect for the algae.
Of course, local skepticism comes because it is no secret that the autumn and winter months are some of the busiest for Florida tourism, so some locals are accusing news sources of conspiring to not accurately report the active Red Tide blooms because it would affect local tourism.
A Fox 4's news article posted yesterday explained that high concentrations of the blooms are returning to the west coast after "disappearing" also received some criticism about their word choice on Facebook.
According to Florida Red Tide and other Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), blooms were detected in the Fort Myers region in December as well, further suggesting that the blooms never actually left. Instead, the blooms are becoming higher concentrated and may start to wreak havoc on the surrounding coastal regions again in the very near future.
Red Tide has been a natural occurrence for hundreds of years but has become a serious ecological problem over the last half-century thanks to pollution, sewer runoffs, and man-made waterways pushing water from Lake Okeechobee to the east and west coast as opposed to naturally filtering through the Everglades.
Currently, there are not many solutions to the problem except to stop pollution and runoffs into the ocean as both of these problems are a perfect energy source for the algae.