Quantcast
Oceans

Florida Gov. Scott Issues Emergency Order for Toxic Red Tide

Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Monday declaring a state of emergency due to the ongoing impacts of red tide in seven southwestern counties.

The algae outbreak started nine months ago and has become the state's longest on record since 2006. The red tide has killed scores of marine life, including countless crabs, eels and fish, as well as dozens of manatees, hundreds of endangered sea turtles, potentially a whale shark and 11 bottlenose dolphins.


The toxic bloom, which is caused by the Karenia brevis organism, has become a public health concern. Residents along the southwest coast have reported respiratory problems due to winds picking up the aerosolized toxins. People can also become ill after consuming contaminated seafood.

Harmful algal blooms can cause about $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries according to NOAA.

Red Tide Status Map, August 10, 2018.Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Scott's emergency was declared for Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

"I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide, so we can combat its terrible impacts," Scott said in a news release. "This includes making additional FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) biologists and scientists available to assist in clean-up and animal rescue efforts."

The executive order will direct $1.5 million in funds to state agencies, including $100,000 for Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to increase its response to red tide impacts, $900,000 for hard-hit Lee County's cleanup efforts and $500,000 for VISIT FLORIDA to establish an emergency grant program to help the affected communities bring in tourists.

Red tide is a natural phenomenon but some have pointed fingers at climate change, as well as mining and agricultural practices that can cause excess nutrients to flush into the waters.

Gov. Scott, who has served for eight years, has also faced a share of the blame for the state's frequent red tide and blue-green algae outbreaks.

The Washington Post reported last week:

During Scott's tenure, budgets for environmental agencies have been sharply reduced. The budget of the South Florida Water Management District, which oversees water issues from Orlando to Key West, was cut. Many of the more than 400 workers who lost their jobs in the $700 million cut were scientists and engineers whose jobs were to monitor pollution levels and algal blooms. Scott also abolished the Department of Community Affairs, which oversaw development in the state.

Scott, who is battling incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate, has accused Nelson and the federal government for "allowing discharges of tainted water from Lake Okeechobee that have led to ugly, smelly and potentially dangerous algal blooms in places including the state's St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers," the Post wrote.

"Washington politician Bill Nelson made a pledge 30 years ago to solve this problem," Scott's television ad declares. "But Nelson's a talker, not a doer."

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla), visited Mote Marine Lab Monday and spoke with its scientists about ways to combat red tide. Earlier this year, Congress successfully passed a Buchanan-sponsored bill that added $8 million to combat toxic algae blooms.

Buchanan hopes to know how much of that funding will go to Florida in the coming days, the Bradenton Herald reported.

"We need more scientists, we need more answers. There's still a lot of questions," he said, according to the Herald. "I've heard for many years of red tide being a natural occurrence, and I'm sure that's the case (for) hundreds of years, but I think there are things aggravating a lot of this and we've got to get serious about it. Because it affects animals and tourism and (the) value of real estate. We've got to get whatever resources we need and I think we'll do it on a bipartisan basis. I think enough is enough."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!