No End in Sight for Florida’s Algae Emergency as Red Tide Spreads up Atlantic Coast

The red tide that’s plagued Florida’s Gulf Coast for a year and made a rare jump east earlier this month wasn’t vanquished by Hurricane Michael.

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Instead the toxic algae bloom has continued to move up the state’s Atlantic coast, befouling beaches and raising fears of a new ecological crisis should it become widespread in the Indian River Lagoon, one of the most biodiverse estuaries in North America.

Red tide, a rusty-brown ooze caused by the neurotoxin-producing algae Karenia Brevis, is a frequent occurrence along Florida’s Gulf Coast—it washes ashore from the West Florida continental shelf and is sustained by local and manmade nutrients. But the 2018 bloom’s recent Atlantic coast tear has been unusual. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission first detected the algae on the east coast near Palm Beach County at the end of September after it followed the Gulf of Mexico loop current. Since then, it’s migrated northward into what’s known as Treasure Coast—comprising Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River counties—and even the southern part of Space Coast in Brevard County.

Conditions have, unfortunately, been welcoming. Throughout its journey the red tide has been killing fish, releasing noxious fumes, and prompting widespread beach closures. Read full article.