Florida Beaches Hit With Toxic 'Red Tide' As Giant Seaweed Blob Nears
Some of Florida's top beaches are at risk of a dual catastrophe as poisonous algae bloom, commonly referred to as 'red tide,' is causing the death of wildlife and poses a health threat to people. Now, a massive 5,000-mile-wide blob of seaweed is passing through the Caribbean and up into the Gulf of Mexico and could soon wreak havoc on Sunshine State beaches.
"It could be two problems turning into a bigger one," Mike Parsons, a marine science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, told CBS News.
The algae causing the red tide is a single-celled organism called "Karenia brevis." It can reproduce in large numbers and create massive blooms that transform the water into an eerily reddish-brown hue -- hence 'red tide.'
Karenia brevis produces a type of toxin known as "brevetoxins," which have fatal effects on marine life and birds. Human contact with these red tide organisms can cause skin irritation and even coughing or congestion problems.
I live 3 miles from Florida’s west coast. Red tide ruined Christmas, and it’s on pace to ruin Spring Break. I don’t care about D’s and R’s. I care about my health, my neighbors, and the marine wildlife dying en masse. DeSantis needs to figure out what’s going on and fix it. pic.twitter.com/JhfT9VNVvZ— Tomy Robinson (@TomyTRobinson) March 8, 2023
Gigantic 5,000-mile blanket of rotting seaweed dubbed the 'red tide' which is TWICE the length of the US and can be seen from space invades the coast of Florida - as residents report burning eyes and trouble breathing pic.twitter.com/3h63yOGMhy— Urantian Lady (@UrantianL) March 13, 2023
#RedTide is ongoing in Florida. Over the next 36 hours, some beaches may experience a MODERATE to HIGH risk of respiratory irritation in CHARLOTTE, COLLIER, LEE, PINELLAS and SARASOTA counties For the latest updates, visit https://t.co/JDsQV8pAoG. pic.twitter.com/9KwfSiqI39— NOAA Coastal Ocean Science (@noaacoastalsci) March 13, 2023
And if that wasn't enough. A seaweed blob spanning more than 5,000 miles is headed for the shores of Florida.
"The blob is currently pushing west and will pass through the Caribbean and up into the Gulf of Mexico during the summer, with the seaweed expected to become prevalent on beaches in Florida around July, Dr. Brian Lapointe, a researcher at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, told CNN.
A massive bloom of seaweed could be headed toward the Florida Gulf coast. It stretches about ~5,000 mi and could be one of the largest in history. I used the Sargassum Watch System (SaWS) which utilizes four satellite sensors to make this image below. https://t.co/tmUwhmBxzo pic.twitter.com/zcVH79xi7a— Grant Gilmore WTSP (@GrantWTSP) March 14, 2023
The combination of red tide and seaweed blob is likely to cause problems for beachgoers and potentially harm the tourism sector in the state this summer.