Scott Directs Money To Help Fight Red Tide

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This is a breaking news story.

Scientists in Florida are on the cusp of developing promising methods to control toxic algae blooms like the "red tide" that has been killing marine life along a 150-mile (240-km) stretch of the Gulf Coast, the head of a leading marine lab said on Wednesday.

Indeed, scientists and historians note fish kills triggered by the infestations dating back as early as the 1500s.

The FWC released a new map Wednesday showing the continued spread of red tide along Florida's Gulf coast.

WLRN-TV reports that the removing phosphorus from water is the way to cut down on the blooms, but it's a timely process and requires 60,000 acres of shallow reservoirs just to treat a small portion of the water that flows out of Lake Okeechobee. But that doesn't mean there actually is one.

Red tide has created $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries each year in the USA, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Such a finding likely would reinvigorate calls for greater regulation of the prime source of the pollutants -agricultural runoff from sugar cane and other farms in South Florida.

Since 2017, higher than normal concentrations of the algae blooms have plagued southwest Florida. Many fish, dolphins, and even a whale shark have washed up dead on Florida beaches. While red tide tends to occur cyclically, blue-green algae blooms are more weather-dependent, so it's harder to know when they will begin and end. Breathing the fallout can constrict the lungs' bronchioles and send asthmatics to emergency rooms with coughs and shortness of breath.

The emergency order Scott issued Monday applies to mitigation efforts in adversely affected counties including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explains that the red tide can be found in bays and estuaries but not in freshwater systems such as lakes and rivers. Lee County will use this additional funding to enhance the county's efforts to clean local waterways from impacts caused by red tide.

Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis said those two counties were included because they are considered "at risk" of being hit by the bloom in the near future. Scott has also ordered $500,000 go to Florida's tourism board to help local people and businesses recover from the drop in vacationers.

The toxins generated by red tide can be harmful to people and marine life. It usually begins 10 to 40 miles offshore, but wind and currents move it closer to beaches.

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