Red Tide kills thousands of fish in Siesta Key

The red tide algae is deadly to fish and cause irritation in humans

Red tide, which refers to higher than normal algae blooms of the organism Karenia brevis, happens nearly annually and has been a natural occurrence for centuries.

Experts suggest an excess amount of nutrients, coming from inland Florida and dumping into the Gulf of Mexico from rivers, could be making this year's bloom more persistent. Instead, they're strewn with the corpses of dead marine creatures, victims of a red tide.

Dolphins, manatees, sea turtles and even a whale shark have washed ashore in southern Florida.

The latest red tide report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows high concentrations in samples collected from Sarasota County southward, meeting the threshold of at least 1 million Karenia brevis cells per liter of water.

Tourists weren't scattered on beaches in southwest Florida on Thursday, but hundreds of dead fish were. The algae bloom - which gets its name because the microscopic algae often turn water red - has already lasted since November of previous year, and could stretch into 2019, some scientists are saying.

The harmful algae bloom has also been hurting businesses in the area. "We will continue to support Florida's biologists to study the best ways to combat red tide, and our state wildlife and environmental professionals will aid Florida communities that are being impacted".

The bloom is an annual event in the waters around Florida and it usually breaks up with the wind and tide; but according to local reports, the current bloom has lasted for up to nine months and has killed more marine life than usual. Red tides, on the other hand, produce toxins that can harm or kill sea life. "That's due, in part, to having red tide and a very cold winter", said Mezich.

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