Experts say the red tide that plagued Florida’s coastline for 15 months is one of the five worst toxic algae events in the state’s recorded history.
State lawmakers from southwest Florida met with scientists on Feb. 6 at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.
The Herald-Tribune reports Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton told the lawmakers the red tide that began in November 2017 and appeared to clear mid-February was the fifth-longest in duration.
The longest was a 30-month red tide that began in 1994 and ended in 1997.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report released Feb. 20 says the toxic algae were no longer present in water samples collected anywhere in the state.
The bloom caused respiratory irritations in people and killed vast numbers of sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and fish.
Red tide is caused by an organism called Karenia brevis, which occurs naturally in the waters off Florida.
In a Herald-Tribune report, University of South Florida red tide expert Robert Weisberg said currents that swept the organisms up from deep offshore waters toward shore had stopped and there’s no evidence more toxic algae is growing.
Conservation groups are working with officials to replenish fish stocks decimated by the red tide.
Sutton said more money was needed for research into ways to limit the impacts of red tide.
Some local lawmakers also are seeking new regulations to limit the flow of nutrients that feed algae blooms.
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