Scientists seek new ways to combat Florida's growing 'red tide'

Scientists seek new ways to combat Florida's growing 'red tide'

Scientists also are studying the possible use of naturally produced compounds from seaweed, parasitic algae and filter-feeding organisms that could be introduced to fight red tides.

The current bloom is the longest on record since 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina rocked areas along the Gulf of Mexico, Florida's wildlife conservation commission said. A portion of emergency funding ordered by the governor is earmarked for assessing impacts on that fish. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was forced to release massive amounts of nutrient-laden water from Lake Okeechobee to prevent the over-topping of the Hoover Dike.

Along with the emergency order, Scott directed an additional $900,000 in grants for Lee County to clean up red tide impacts, bringing the county's total red tide grant funding to more than $1.3 million. They can even subside and then reoccur.

Part of the reason why the red tide is so prominent this season is because there are some leftover blooms from previous year, Bob Weisberg, a professor of physical oceanography at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science, told ABC News.

The latest bloom coincided with the spawning season for snook, an ecologically important and popular game fish in Florida, Crosby said.

Microscopic karenia bravis cells create a ghastly panorama when they burst into life, turning the seas blood red and spelling doom for marine creatures great and small throughout infected coastal waters, coves and inlets.

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"I called on the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to help with the algae & red tide crisis here in Florida", Nelson tweeted.

Mortalities of other species, including manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and birds also occur.

In humans, red tide can cause respiratory irritation, Weisberg said, but it's usually temporary unless the person suffers from severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic lung disease.

"This system gets rid of the red tide, gets rid of the toxins, gets rid of the excess organic matter that's decomposing, and it deoxygenates the water, so it's really a win-win situation", said Mote Marine Laboratory senior scientist Richard Pierce.

Additionally, the red tide toxins can also accumulate in filter-feeders mollusks such as oysters and clams, which can lead to Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) in people who consume contaminated shellfish.

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