Red tide along Florida’s Gulf Coast leads Gov. Scott to declare state of emergency



Red Tide killing sea life, making the disease along the Coast of the Gulf

The Sunshine State’s southwest coast was hit by a relentless Red Tide this summer-thousands of dead fish are clogging waterways, while manatees, turtles and even a whale shark washed up after falling victim to the dangerous water levels.

A blanket of red tide along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the dead marine life in addition to emptying normally packed beaches with an unrelenting stench has caused the state of the governor’s state of emergency for parts of the region.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s declaration covers Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas county, that “all the resources of the state” implemented to ensure residents are safe and businesses can recover.

“As Southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area continues to feel the devastating effects of the red tide, we will continue to take an aggressive approach by using all available resources to help our local communities,” Scott, a Republican, said in a statement. “I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to communities experiencing red tide, so that we can combat the terrible consequences.”

Scott says that he is the order of $100,000 for additional scientists to help with the cleanup efforts and the other $500,000 to help local communities and businesses struggle with the loss of income as tourists flee. The governor also directed another $900,000 in the form of grants to help Lee County’s clean-up efforts.

Naples, in Southwest Florida, located approximately 135 kilometers to the north, the beach communities along the coast of the Gulf is plagued with red tide.

(AP Photo/Chris O’meara)

Red tide — a naturally occurring toxic algae bloom that can be harmful for people with respiratory problems — has spread throughout the region since October, and extends about 150 km from Naples to Anna Maria Island.

The algae turns the water toxic for marine life, and in recent weeks, beachgoers have discovered turtles, large fish, and even manatees washed up dead. In Sarasota County, 11 dead dolphins have been found, and marine biologists are investigating if the deaths are linked to red tide, according to FOX13.


Adam Stoneking, the general manager of Le Barge Tropical Cruise, told FOX13 he has not seen that the local dolphin populations recently.

“The fact that we’re just not to see them) and that they are not in the field for more shows just how bad a problem is,” he said.

In this Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 photo, a work crew cleaning up dead fish at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, Fla.

(AP Photo/Chris O’meara)

The Florida Wildlife Research Institute says that the number of dead and stranded sea turtles this year is almost three times higher than the average. More than 450 stranded dead sea turtles are found in the four concerned provinces, and the institute estimates that 250 to 300 died from red tide poisoning.

In Sarasota County, officials said Friday that since Aug. 1 they have removed more than 66 tonnes of fish from county beaches. The smell of the fish makes it miserable for residents and tourists to be by the water.

Since Aug. 1, Sarasota County has removed more than 66 tonnes of fish from county beaches, which remain open. We continue to monitor the beaches and clean in accordance with the beach cleanup policy. For the last visit #redtide

— SarasotaCountyGov (@SRQCountyGov) August 10, 2018

“I can’t describe the scent. It seems incredibly. It makes you throw up,” Holmes Beach resident Alex Kuizon told the Associated Press. Kuizon, who has lived in the area for decades, had to hold a handkerchief over his mouth and nose while you talk with a reporter, according to the AP.

In this Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 photograph, Alex Kuizon covers his face as he stands in the near of dead fish on a boat ramp in Bradenton Beach, Fla.

(AP Photo/Chris O’meara)


Officials are now trying to figure out why this year’s red tide is so intense. Some researchers have noticed aggressive blooms after the hurricanes; Irma swept along Florida’s Gulf Coast in the summer of 2017, and a period of red tide affected Florida after the powerful 2004-2005 hurricanes.

In this Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 photo, work crews clean up of dead fish along Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, Fla.

(AP Photo/Chris O’meara)

Growing anger about the big death of the marine life drew hundreds to a protest in Fort Myers on Saturday about the condition of the waterways.

“There’s just too much death and destruction,” protestor Robin Adams told FOX4. “I feel terrible that I went with my family here.”

In this Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 photo, dead fish are shown in the vicinity of a boat ramp in Bradenton Beach, Fla.

(AP Photo/Chris O’meara)

Adams, who moved from Pennsylvania to the Fort Myers area and called her daughter Marina out of love for the ocean, said the amount of dead fish wash of red tide along beaches and algae in Lake Okeechobee has made her question the move.

“[Marina] wants to go back to Pennsylvania… “she says,” Mommy, the animals are not killed as they are here,'” she told FOX4.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @travfed

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