Florida Declares State Of Emergency As Red Tide Spreads

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Gretchen Lovewell, Mote Marine Lab's program manager for the team that investigates dead and stranded animals (C) and stranding technician, Jessica Blackburn take a break from a necropsies of a Loggerhead (L) and Kemp's Ridley turtle in Sarasota, Florida, August 7, 2018.

"Red tide" refers to the natural phenomenon of toxic algae blooms and resulting wildlife die-off that has occurred many times along Florida's coasts. "Today, I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its awful impacts".

As part of the order, more than $100,000 has been alloted for biologists and scientists assisting with saving animals and cleaning up the beaches. The governor also includes Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, even though so far the Red Tide has not put in a confirmed appearance in either location.

Michael Crosby, president and chief executive of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, welcomed a red tide emergency order issued this week by Governor Rick Scott, designating more state money for research, cleanup and wildlife rescues.

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In humans, red tide can cause respiratory irritation, Weisberg said, but it's usually temporary unless the person suffers from severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic lung disease.

The Florida Wildlife Research Institute says the number of dead and stranded sea turtles is almost three times higher than average.

County health departments, according to Scott's office, are actively posting signage warning beachgoers and boaters of red tide-affected areas.

The executive order comes after Florida Senator Bill Nelson tweeted about the need for help with the red tide crisis last week.

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The map above shows the shore being plagued by the red tide algae in Florida. They just wrote back. What is going on?

The current bloom is the longest on record since 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina rocked areas along the Gulf of Mexico, Florida's wildlife conservation commission said. Why aren't state leaders asking for help?

Red tide is a term that describes a harmful algal bloom (HAB), which occurs "when colonies of algae-simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater-grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds" according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service.

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