The state of Florida has been under attack by a surge of the “Red Tide”. The Red Tide has been coloring our oceans red, which is actually caused by red algae in the water. Generally, algae is considered to be very harmless, but this variety is extremely dangerous to both the ocean ecosystem and humans. What has resulted of the tide is a stream of dead ocean wildlife, and beaching of turtles, fish and other sea life. But why does this type of algae cause so much damage? When the algae blooms, and subsequently dies, it releases harmful toxins that contaminate the sea water, which results in the events aforementioned. The next question is: How does this affect us?
There are huge economic consequences of this red tide, and it all stems from tourism. Tourism is one of Florida’s main economic powerhouses; it fuels almost every part of our economy. With this tide getting in the way of some of Florida’s most popular spots, our beaches, expect to see a decline in revenue. This also hurts small businesses near the beaches, as the dip in beachgoers will cause sinkholes in business.
It can also harm us physically. Red algae can cause major health issues, such as respiratory issues and dermal ones, too. It can even affect what we eat–when shellfish gets contaminated by the toxins, and we eat it, it can cause NSP, or Neurotic Shellfish Poisoning. Overall, the algae is not life threatening by any means–you can still swim in red tide-infested water–but it can cause discomfort and be harmful to those who may have respiratory problems that are pre-existing (like asthma).
This is not the first time the red tide has ravaged Florida, though. In 1996, a red tide came to Florida, and killed nearly 10% of its manatee populations, along with 162 dolphins in Mexico. We could see this damage again if we do not take measures to stop this, but there are no real solutions as of yet. All we can do now is sit and take the punches of this toxic tide.