Published: Wed, August 15, 2018
Science | By

State of emergency as Florida battles algae

State of emergency as Florida battles algae

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.

Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties are now under a state of emergency due to the toxic algae bloom, and his office added in a statement that "red tide is a naturally occurring algae that has been documented along Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840s and occurs almost every year".

The declaration will provide $1.5 million in emergency funding and make state scientists available to help with clean-up efforts and animal rescues.

In a statement, Scott said he wants to continue to combat the issue of red tide with great enthusiasm.

"I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its bad impacts", said Governor Rick Scott in a statement on Monday.

VISIT FLORIDA will also create a $500,000 emergency grant program to assist local tourism development boards in counties affected by the naturally-occurring red tide.

The red tide ― a harmful bloom of algae that occurs naturally ― began previous year and has spread through the Gulf of Mexico, now spanning some 150 miles.

The toxins generated by red tide can be harmful to people and marine life.

Making additional biologists and scientist available to support local government's response to red tide and protect wildlife - this is in addition to the staff deployed by FWC at Governor Scott's direction last week.

This summer, that means the devastating red tide is happening at the same time as a toxic blue-green algae bloom spreads in the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie Estuary.

"Nitrogen is the limiting factor on the growth of anything in the sea", said Bill Mitsch, who is the head of Everglades Wetlands Research Park and an environmental science professor at FGCU, according to the NBC report. Researchers also continue to study whether pollution and human activity may be intensifying the effects of red tide.

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