Watch Toxic red tide algae bloom causes closure of Florida beaches and cancellation of festival – Latest News
Florida’s southwest coast is currently experiencing a toxic red tide algae bloom, which has caused concerns among residents and forced the closure of beaches along with the cancellation of a local festival.
The red tide, a naturally occurring phenomenon worsened by the presence of nutrients such as nitrogen in the water, has caused dead marine life to wash ashore in the thousands every day, including about 1,000 pounds of fish that have been cleared from St Pete Beach since the start of the month.
While the current bloom started in October, Florida‘s southwest coast experienced a flare-up of the toxic red tide algae this week, setting off concerns that it could continue to stick around for a while.
Residents have reported burning eyes and breathing problems, and a beachside festival, BeachFest, scheduled for next month in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, has been cancelled due to concerns that the red tide will continue through the middle of next month.
The Indian Rocks Beach Homeowners Association, which sponsored the festival, issued a statement: “Red tide is currently present on the beach and is forecasted to remain in the area in the weeks to come… It is unfortunate that it had to be cancelled, but it is the best decision in the interest of public health.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the organism Karenia brevis, responsible for the toxic red tide algae bloom, has been detected in 157 samples taken from the Gulf coast of the state.
Carmine DeMilio, who heads the red tide cleanup efforts as the operations manager for Manatee County Parks, told the Bradenton Herald that it “started getting intense” about two weeks ago.
Mr DeMilio stated that his staff has collected approximately 3.5 tons of dead fish over the past two weeks, utilising beach rake tractors to comb the sand and skimmer boats to retrieve dead fish from the water.
“We start at 5 in the morning and go till around 11.30,” Mr DeMilio told the Bradenton Herald. “By that time, the beachgoers are on the beach, and it’s hard to manoeuvre.”
Bob Weisberg, the former director of the University of South Florida’s Ocean Circulation Lab, told the Tampa Bay Times: “I cannot say when it’s going to go away. It could very well be that this thing may linger.”