Around 600 tons of rotting fish and other sea creatures have ended up on the shores of Tampa Bay due to a toxic red tide. In a sight straight out of hell, the water has turned murky while the beaches are covered with dead and rotting fish and other creatures.
Residents say that the dead fish include all varieties and sizes including manatees, tarpons, and dolphins. Anything straying into the Tampa Bay area is ending up dead on the beaches.
The toxic red tide is an outbreak of red algae, which blooms off the Gulf Coast of Florida once every year. It also affects humans as direct exposure causes respiratory problems. But it has proved to be fatal for all forms of sea life. It has been killing fish since June.
Maya Burke, assistant director at the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, and a longtime resident of the area says that it is not the normal time for the toxic red tide. Tropical Storm Elsa might have contributed to the fish drifting ashore. St. Petersburg has seen the worst outbreak of the toxic red tide.
Toxic Red Tide Are Natural Blooms Of Algae, But The Time And Intensity Is Uncommon
Karenia Brevis, the microscopic organism that causes the toxic red tide, are common algae in the Gulf of Mexico, though they rarely occur with such intensity in summers.
Oceanographer Richard Stumpf says that the algae bloom that causes the toxic red tide typically occurs in the autumn and disappears by January. It was observed only three times more in the past, in 1995, 2005, and 2018.
Huge quantities of dead fish have already been collected from the beaches and it includes larger creatures like dolphins and manatees. Estimates put it at more than 600 tons.
Scientists and experts are not sure of the reasons behind the unseasonal outbreak of the toxic red tide. Tom Frazer at the College of Marine Science believes that a phosphate plant spill could have contributed to the severity of the outbreak, but there is no evidence to prove it.
Many factors can contribute to the severity and intensity of an outbreak including wind, rainfall, and the nitrogen and phosphate quantity in the seawater. But whatever the reason, the toxic red tide has caused an ecological disaster on the beaches of Florida.