The Red Tide: Florida's Coastal Crisis

Here at Ocean Helper, we were moved by the outcry from some of our customers based in Florida and wanted to raise awareness and support them in this time of crisis. We are very excited to announce that this month, August, Ocean Helper will be making Mote Marine Laboratory the main beneficiary of our donations.

Who are Mote Marine Laboratory?

Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote Marine Laboratory are an independent research institution who have studied Florida red tide for decades in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and numerous other partners.

What is the Red Tide?

Red tide refers to a naturally occurring algae in the Gulf of Mexico, which, when it blooms, is reported to kill fish, these reports date back to the early 1800's. Red tide forms offshore, and is then moved inshore by tides, currents, and winds. Once inshore, red tide can then feed off of manmade nutrients, prolonging or increasing the bloom.

The recent freshwater blooms of cyanobacteria, released from Lake Okeechobee, has complicated these matters. Cyanobacteria lives in freshwater; when encountering saltwater, the algae quickly dies, but the dead algae may be providing nutrients to red tide blooms already in near-shore waters.

Karenia Brevis - Mote Marine Laboratory

A cell of Karenia Brevis, the species of algae that causes Florida Red Tide. Image Credit: Mote Marine Laboratory

Why is it a problem?

The red tide is a huge problem for both marine life and for the locals in Florida. The devastating effects of the Toxic Algae Blooms is leaving Florida's beautiful, white sandy beaches covered in dead fish. High concentrations of toxic algae have affected at least 120 miles of the peninsula’s Gulf of Mexico coast, running from Sarasota to Naples.

It's not an uncommon event, however it is not usually as severe as it is this year. There has been a rise in the number of marine animal deaths, with 287 turtles stranded along the stretch of south-west coast, either dead, sick or injured, since the beginning of the year!

People with asthma or emphysema have been advised to stay away from affected areas as it can cause respiratory problems as well as skin irritation.

Dead Fish

What can be done?

While preventing the formation of red tide is at this time extremely unpractical (the sheer size of blooms prevents their control by human intervention), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are working with partner agencies to determine how to reduce manmade nutrients runoff into the Gulf which both prolongs and increases the bloom.

What has been done?

This spring an appropriation of $8 million was designated, through the leadership of Congressman Vern Buchanan, for the federal agency NOAA’s National Ocean Service to fight red tide impacts.

From October 2017 through July 2018, Mote and its partners have monitored extensively for Florida red tide to augment public information on the status of the bloom. (For monitoring updates, click here and scroll to the bottom.)

Mote scientists look forward to the opportunity of working with partners to leverage and make most efficient use of any federal funding that may become available for greatest impact in the fight against Florida red tide.

You can find more updates and information from Mote Marine Laboratory here.

Every sale of our half price Ocean Helper Baseball Cap Multipack will help to raise funds for the Mote Marine Laboratory, they will be our main beneficiary this month.

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