State of emergency as Florida battles algae

Pat Wise
August 16, 2018

Toxic algae blooms along Florida's southwestern coast have persisted for months and are taking a deadly toll on marine wildlife.

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

The state of emergency is in effect for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties.

Tourists and residents alike have been chased away from Florida's famous beaches by an ominous-sounding ecological occurrence: red tide.

This is the second emergency order sent out by Scott, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, to deal with a toxic algae bloom this summer.

"While we fight to learn more about this naturally-occurring phenomenon, we will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover", Scott said.

Meanwhile, Scott said his office is "directing a further $900,000 in grants for Lee County to clean up impacts related to red tide ... bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million". The algae has been documented along Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840's and occurs almost every year.

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As part of the order, more than $100,000 has been alloted for biologists and scientists assisting with saving animals and cleaning up the beaches.

County health departments, according to Scott's office, are actively posting signage warning beachgoers and boaters of red tide-affected areas.

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.

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

The blooms discolor the seawater and produce toxins that can sicken or kill fish, seabirds, turtles and marine mammals, such as manatees, according to the FWC.

Lingering Red Tide bloom moves north, killing fish near mouth of Tampa Bay.

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