Environmental Conservation – Red Tide in the Gulf of Mexico

The Ft. Myers News Press reported on Nov. 8th, that high concentrations of a single celled organism called “Kareina brevis” is present in the Gulf of Mexico off SW Florida beaches  resulting in a Red Tide or dark bloom of water that is several  miles wide.  Kareina brevis is a type of algae which causes many harmful effects including fish die offs and respiratory illnesses in people when it reaches high concentrations such as 1,000 cells per liter in the salt water. Red Tide has been around for a long time and occurs on the east coast of Florida and further north but in low concentrations is not particularly harmful. In some years such as 2013,  it occurs with harmful consequences and over 200 Manatees died. The article “Scientists peg red tide sources” states that scientists have recently discovered that this plant like organism consumes many more types of nutrients and chemicals than once thought. We have trying to point the finger at the smoking gun to pin point  how and why this red tide occurs but it is probably a combination of several factors and environmental sources that causes this harmful outbreak.  Many people think the problem is caused by pollutants being flushed into our waterways from fertilizers containing nitrogen, septic tanks located near beaches, and canals, storm water runoff after heavy rains and animals waste from farms. Amendment 1 which just passed in Florida gives the state the ability to clean up our waterways and stop some of the excess nutrients from being sent into the Gulf of Mexico.

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