Red tide moving north in Gulfgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
http://www.vny.com/cf/news/upidetail.cfm?QID=217551 Wednesday, 5 September 2001 11:33 (ET)
Red tide moving north in Gulf
SARASOTA, Fla., Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A 30- to 40-mile-long, 6-mile-wide patch of red tide has been moving north along Florida's Gulf Coast, lining Siesta Key beach near Sarasota with dead fish for miles.
The smelly stretch of dead fish left by the cloud of single-cell organisms is 8-10 feet wide in some places. "It appears to me that Siesta Key is the hardest hit at this point," said Skip Stasko, Sarasota County communities services supervisor.
Stasko has been dispatching beach cleaning equipment and county workers to clean up the mess. The smell of rotting fish has left the area almost barren of beachgoers. "There are probably more employees out there than visitors," Stasko said.
The algae bloom that turns the water into the color of tea was spotted near Fort Myers, Fla., several weeks ago and is now about 50 miles further north. Scientists said, however, they do not know whether the move up the coast will continue.
Richard Pierce, director of the Center for Ecotoxicology at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, said the bloom reaches at least 6 miles offshore. But he said there is no way to tell which way it will go. "We really don't know at this point," he said. "We're trying to understand it. Our goal is to have that predictive capability."
How long it will last is another question. It could end any day, and it could last months, scientists said. Some days it seems like it has dissipated as the toxins fall, but the next day it can be back.
The death of a manatee found in Charlotte County waters was being investigated to determine if red tide is to blame. A necropsy is being performed on the animal.
The outbreak marks the first opportunity in several years for scientists to study the phenomenon. A $3 million study financed by the state in 1999 is finally under way to determine if rainfall, wind, ocean currents and other factors have significant impacts on the phenomenon.
"We really don't know how they correlate. It's a very interesting and challenging problem," Pierce said. Red tide produces neurotoxins that enter a fish's blood stream with fatal effects. Red tide can also remove oxygen from the water in large enough amounts to suffocate fish and shellfish.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
-- Swissrose (email@example.com), September 05, 2001