Red tide, dead fish plague tourists

The red tide algae is deadly to fish and cause irritation in humans

The red tide algae is deadly to fish and cause irritation in humans Credit Getty

The Herald-Tribune reports that visitors piled into the parking lot of Venice Beach, got out of their cars, started hacking, coughing and sneezing and then quickly left. And red tide may be to blame.

The Florida red tide organism, known as Karenia Brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die. Respiratory irritation and murky clumps of red drift algae have been reported from Collier to Sarasota counties.

"During my time in office, we have invested millions of dollars to research and mitigate red tide along Florida's Gulf Coast", Scott said in a statement.

Officials say almost 400 sea turtles have died because of the toxic bloom.

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Also this week, a manatee in distress from exposure to red tide in southwest Florida was taken to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation.

Lee County has paired with private contractors to begin removing dead fish from its beaches, but officials warned that it could be a long and ongoing process. Currents may push the blooms to shore and chemical conditions on the shoreline can help the algae sustain itself. The red tide is going strong - and has been joined by toxic blue-green algae invading Lake Okeechobee, and several of the state's rivers and canals, Newsweek said. The algae bloom - which gets its name because the microscopic algae often turn water red - has already lasted since November of a year ago, and could stretch into 2019, some scientists are saying.

Harvesting of shellfish like clams, oysters or mussels in a Red Tide area is banned.

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