Massive Red Tide bloom threatens marine life in Florida

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The coastal plains of Florida are facing serious threat from a large Red Tide bloom which has not been seen for almost a decade.

The Red Tide is posing devastating infestation on the marine life of Florida. The incoming tide has already claimed lives of thousands of fish in the Gulf of Mexico and it is now reported to be closing in on the coast. The Red tide bloom is expected to wash ashore striking the mainland in around two weeks.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the bloom is spread about 80 miles in length and approx 50 miles in width in Gulf of Mexico but presently the tide is from 40 to 90 miles offshore.

“It could have large impacts if it were to move inshore. It has been killing a lot of marine species, especially fish, as it waits offshore,” Brandon Basino, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), said. In order to monitor the growth of algae bloom, the researchers at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota have deployed two underwater robots in the sea. The robots will provide important information about the slow-moving bloom.

The Red Tide or Algal bloom is a phenomenon that has been occurring in the sea water for centuries. It is result of the disturbance created by few species of a type of algae called dinoflagellates. Their massive population growth result in discoloring of water, most probably in colors like red or brown. The algae bloom becomes uncontrollable and production of toxic chemicals begins. The water turns toxic and result into death of marine creatures including fish, octopus and others.

Florida has so far received several reports of death of thousands of sea creatures including fish, octopus and bull sharks.

A similar red tide bloom had caused deaths of 276 endangered Florida manatees in 2013.

The algae bloom also poses health risk to the humans, Experts say people living near the coasts or in the coastal areas may develop symptoms like coughing, wheezing and other respiratory problem. The chemical responsible for these health problems is odorless and tasteless.