Gov. Rick Scott, a man who over the past eight years cut almost $700 million from Florida's environmental agencies (many of whom oversee algae outbreaks) declared a state of emergency today to combat our current algae outbreak. The red tide has made breathing hard for locals, scared away tourists, and strewn popular beaches with the stinking carcasses of fish, eels, porpoises, turtles, manatees and one 26-foot whale shark.
How is red tide affecting Florida?
According to the Florida Department of Health, "Symptoms from breathing red tide toxins usually include coughing, sneezing and teary eyes", and that "most people can swim in red tide, but it can cause skin irritation and burning eyes".
Over the weekend, residents of the areas hardest hit by the red tide organized an event called Hands Across the Water to raise awareness about what the toxic tide is doing to the marine wildlife in their communities.
In hopes of combating future outbreaks, scientists are field testing a patented process that would pump red-algae-tainted seawater into an ozone-treatment system and then pump the purified water back into the affected canal, cove or inlet, Crosby said.
"In addition to the emergency order, I am also 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", Scott said in a press release.
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Experiments carried out in huge 25,000-gallon tanks succeeded in removing all traces of the algae and its toxins, with the water chemistry reverting to normal within 24 hours, he said.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in September 2017 in two Florida locations only to be followed by the beginning of the red tide.
Direction for VISIT FLORIDA to begin developing a marketing campaign to assist Southwest Florida communities that will start following this year's red tide blooms.
'It's a bad bloom by any standard, ' said Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer who studies red tides for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Researchers are watching oceanographic conditions in the region carefully and using forecasting tools not unlike seasonal weather forecasts to predict how long this bloom will last.
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.