A Record 589 Sea Turtles Killed By Florida's Toxic Red Tide
The current outbreak, which began in October 2017 off southwest Florida, has been tied to a record 589 sea turtle deaths and 213 manatee deaths, the Herald-Tribune reported, citing figures from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
As of December 20, 127 bottlenose dolphins have been stranded along the southwest coast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The mammals showed positive results for the red tide toxin, brevetoxin.
Sea turtle species that have been affected by the poisonous brew including loggerhead and Kemp's ridley sea turtles, both of which are federally protected. Kemp's ridleys are considered the world's most endangered marine turtle.
Local turtle patrollers, including Suzi Fox, the director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring, told the Herald-Tribune that the outbreak could affect next year's sea turtle nesting season, an unfortunate turn after several record seasons.
Blooms of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, were detected as recently as Jan. 11 in southwest Florida, including "high" cell concentrations (more than 1 million cells per liter) in Sarasota County and offshore of Collier County, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Current red tide sampling mapFlorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Respiratory irritation—a symptom from breathing red tide toxins—was also reported in Manatee and Sarasota counties that same week, the commission said.
Last week, Florida's new Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a sweeping executive order that includes plans to study red tide and the creation of a task force to solve Florida's other algae outbreak, the toxic blue-green bloom from Lake Okeechobee.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.