April 22, 2021
Red tide typically begins in offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and moves inshore as the algae bloom grows. But every once in a while red tide blooms occur inshore with no known connection to an offshore bloom. This is what is currently happening in Charlotte Harbor, where red tide sampling data show no red tide in coastal waters, but a bloom intense enough to cause a large-scale, ongoing fish kill where the Peace and Myakka Rivers flow into Charlotte Harbor. The red tide is intense enough that even tarpon are being killed. Typically, tarpon aren’t red tide victims.
Research suggests that, although red tide has occurred along Florida’s east coast for at least hundreds of years, red tides are becoming more frequent, cover larger areas, last longer, and are more intense, likely due to increased nutrients. The extra nutrients flowing into coastal waters from human activities – wastewater, stormwater runoff, fertilizers, industrial runoff – are the culprits. These pollutants enter coastal waters by rivers, creeks, and groundwater. Current policies are either insufficient to address these nutrient sources or, in some cases, facilitate the input of nutrients into estuaries.
The dominoes continue to fall. Our fisheries continue to suffer. Major investments and policy changes are needed to reverse course before it’s too late. Join BTT in calling for more responsible management of our waters, habitats, and fisheries.
In this video (IMG_8407-CH-redtide-Rhett-Morris), Captain Rhett Morris shows a livewell of newly collected bait killed by red tide contaminated water flowing through his livewell in upper Charlotte Harbor.
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