Since the end of June, teams in Pinellas County, Fla., Have cleaned up more than 600 tonnes of dead marine life from the Tampa coast amid a red tide outbreak, Josie Fischels reports for NPR.
The red tide is a sudden proliferation of Karenia brevis, rust-colored algae that secrete a deadly toxin. Flowers K. brevis rarely affect the Tampa Bay area in summer – the last time the area experienced a red tide in summer was in 2018. This year’s disaster is already showing signs of being worse than its red tide. three years ago, said Amber Boulding, St. Petersburg’s emergency manager. , at a press conference, by the Washington postis Julian Mark. Officials in the area had hoped Tropical Storm Elsa would help send the algae and its victims out to sea, but instead it pushed more debris ashore.
“Tampa Bay is really sick right now, really extraordinarily bad,” Justin Bloom, board member for local environmental groups Tampa Bay and Suncoast Waterkeeper, told Matt Cohen at the Tampa Bay weather. “Conditions we haven’t seen for decades. “
Flowers K. brevis are fatal to marine life because algae secrete brevetoxins, which interfere with the nervous system. They make the animals swim in circles until they eventually become paralyzed, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The tufts of dead fish that congregate near the flowers are called “fish kills”. Strong winds, like those from Tropical Storm Elsa, push killed fish ashore.
“It certainly doesn’t appear, as we had all crossed our fingers, that Tropical Storm Elsa helped the red tide situation. It certainly didn’t evacuate it from Tampa Bay. It’s possible that in some areas it did. has done worse, ”says Lisa Krimsky, regional water resources expert at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in CBS News.
The city of St. Petersburg has been particularly hard hit by the influx of life from the Dead Sea washing up on the shore, bringing the smell of rotten fish. Teams of around 120 people from several city departments cleaned up the shores by picking up dead fish from the water surface with pool skimmers, putting them in garbage bags and loading them into a truck. tipper, bring it back Tampa Bay weather. In 24 hours, cleanup crews picked up nine tonnes of dead fish.
“The bay is really hurting right now,” Pinellas County resident Maya Burke told NPR. “That’s a significant number of dead fish throughout the food chain, from small forage fish to tarpons, manatees, dolphins.… If he’s swimming in the bay, right now he’s washing himself dead.”
Scientists are still investigating the cause of this year’s red tide. Bloom tells Tampa Bay News that the Piney Point disaster in April, when a former Manatee County fertilizer plant dumped 215 million gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay, may have contributed to the sudden growth of algae, which feed on phosphorus and nitrogen that can be found in fertilizers.
As of yet, officials do not know how long the red tide will last. When the Tampa Bay area was last faced with a summer algae bloom in 2018, the effects lasted until 2019 and more than 1,800 tonnes of dead marine life washed up on Pinellas beaches.
“We are thinking about our last red tide bloom in 2018 and how serious it is. And talking to the staff here is worse, ”Boulding said at the press conference, according to the Washington post. “They see… more fish killed. We go up and take aerial footage, we see more over there in the bay.”