Wildlife officials say a sick loggerhead turtle rescued by Pasco County Sheriff’s marine officers Wednesday is likely a victim of Southwest Florida’s spreading red tide. There have been reports of fish kills along the beaches of Pinellas County in recent days. Bill Richardson – a red tide researcher with the Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission says the persistent algal bloom is shifting to the north.
“It was first sighted in mid June down near the Caloosahatchee area – San Carlos bay - and it’s patchy in its distribution but I’ts been along the coast of Charlotte and Sarasota and then more recently has come up across the mouth of Tampa Bay near the Sky Way fishing pier.”
Richardson says there’s no way to predict when the red tide bloom will dissipate. He says if there’s lots of rainfall and then lots of fresh water flowing into Tampa Bay ‘that’ could impede its progress. The red tide organism that occurs in southwest Florida is stopped or slowed down when salinity decreases.
Tropical Storm Florence is getting better organized but still poses no threat to Florida. But while tropical systems can do great harm, they can also do some good. Rainfall from the massive storms can relieve droughts. And as red-tide researchers have discovered tropical systems can also move the harmful algal blooms away from beaches, bays and inlets. Bill Richardson is a red tide researcher with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in St. Petersburg.
”If a hurricane came and its path was such that large volumes of water are transported offshore – say south away from the coast and there was a current red tide in those waters – the red tide would be transported out of that region and that’s one way red tide can dissipate”.
Researchers had predicted that Tropical Storm Ernesto last week might move Southwest Florida’s persistent red tide far away – but the storm lost its punch and the red tide remains. The good news? No hurricane clean-up. The bad news? Cleaning up dead fish.
Friday, 08 September 2006 01:00
Red Tide NewsWritten by WGCU Newsroom