As the warm, tropical sun beats down on the sandy shores of Florida, it's easy to understand why the state's beachfront real estate is so desirable. However, in recent years, an unwelcome visitor has cast a shadow over the once-pristine beaches: Red Tide. Red Tide is a naturally occurring phenomenon caused by an overgrowth of algae in the water. In Florida, the red tide was caused by the toxic algae Karenia brevis in 2023.
It grows out of control and produces harmful toxins. It has come earlier and in higher concentrations than usual, causing harm to marine life and posing health problems for humans. It kills fish by producing a potent toxin called brevetoxin that affects the central nervous system of the fish. The toxin can also affect birds and other marine animals. The red tide has been documented in Florida's Gulf Coast as far back as the 1840s, and scientists cannot predict when it will occur.
The cause of red tide is still being studied, but nutrient-laden runoff from farms and developments may play a role. The toxins produced by red tide can cause respiratory problems in humans and animals, as well as harm marine life. The state of Florida has been experiencing a red tide event in recent weeks, with concentrations detected in multiple counties along the coast. In this article, we will explore the causes of red tide, the impact on Florida's beaches, and what measures are being taken to mitigate the effects.
What is Red Tide on Florida Beaches?
Red tide is caused by an algae bloom, specifically Karenia brevis. When the conditions are right, such as warm water temperatures, calm winds, and nutrients in the water, Karenia brevis can reproduce rapidly, creating a dense concentration of cells, or a “bloom.” The toxins produced by Karenia brevis can harm marine life and humans who come into contact with the water or breathe in the airborne toxins.
Will it be a concern for those looking to invest in Florida beach real estate? The impact of red tide on Florida beaches can also have a significant impact on the real estate industry in the area. In the past, red tide outbreaks have caused a decrease in tourism, which can ultimately affect property values and rental income. Homebuyers may also be hesitant to purchase property near areas affected by red tide, causing a potential drop in demand and property prices.
Additionally, homeowners may face difficulty selling their properties during a red tide outbreak. While the long-term effects of red tide on Florida's real estate market are still unclear, it is clear that red tide outbreaks can have significant economic and environmental impacts on the state.
Red Tide in Florida Beaches: Current Status Update
The latest Red Tide Status Update for March 29, 2023, provides a comprehensive overview of the current conditions of red tide in the waters off the coast of Florida. The update reports that the red tide organism Karenia brevis was detected in 83 samples in and offshore of Southwest Florida, three samples from Northwest Florida, and one sample from Florida’s East Coast. The bloom concentrations were present in three samples, and they were in Manatee County and Lee County. The report also highlights the use of satellite imagery from the USF and NOAA NCCOS to track this patchy event.
In terms of concentrations, the report states that K. brevis was observed at background to low concentrations in Pinellas County, background to low concentrations offshore of Hillsborough County, background to medium concentrations in Manatee County, background to low concentrations in Sarasota County, background concentrations in Charlotte County, background to medium concentrations in Lee County, and background to low concentrations in and offshore of Collier County in Southwest Florida.
In Northwest Florida, K. brevis was observed at background concentrations in one sample collected from Bay County, and at background concentrations in two samples collected from Gulf County. Along the Florida East Coast, K. brevis was observed at background concentrations in one sample collected from Palm Beach County.
Fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were reported from Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Lee, and Collier counties. Additionally, respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported in Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, and Collier counties via the Beach Conditions Reporting System and/or the Fish Kill Hotline.
Finally, the report includes a forecast by the USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides. The forecast predicts variable movement of surface waters and net southeastern transport of subsurface waters in most areas over the next 3.5 days for Pinellas County to northern Monroe County. This information is critical to help protect the health and well-being of the residents and tourists in Florida, as well as the state's natural resources.
Measures Taken to Mitigate the Effects
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is closely monitoring the red tide event and providing updates on its website. The FWC is also collaborating with other agencies, such as the University of South Florida and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to track the event using satellite imagery. In addition, local governments and organizations are taking measures to mitigate the effects of red tide. For example, some beaches have been closed to the public, and cleanup efforts are underway to remove dead marine life and other debris from the beaches.
Causes & Impact of Red Tide on Florida's Beaches
The current red tide event in Florida has been detected in multiple counties along the coast. Concentrations of over 100,000 cells/liter have been detected in Pinellas and Manatee counties. The toxins produced by red tide can cause respiratory problems in humans, such as coughing, sneezing, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. They can also cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal problems if ingested. Marine life, such as fish and sea turtles, can also be affected by the toxins, leading to fish kills and other environmental impacts.
The red tide algae bloom has been causing significant impacts on Florida’s beaches. The bloom, which started in October, has led to burning eyes and respiratory problems among the residents of the state's southwest coast. Dead fish have been washing up on beaches, leading to the cancellation of the annual BeachFest in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida.
The homeowners' association, with help from the city and Pinellas County Health Department, made the decision to cancel the festival due to concerns that the red tide could continue to stick around for a while. The red tide is expected to remain in the area in the coming weeks, and public health was deemed a top priority.
Nearly two tons of debris, primarily composed of dead fish, have been removed from Pinellas County beaches and brought to the landfill. Additionally, about 1,000 pounds of fish have been cleared from beaches in St. Pete Beach since the start of the month.
Red tide is a naturally occurring toxic algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico that is worsened by the presence of nutrients, such as nitrogen, in the water. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warns people to avoid swimming in or around red tide waters due to the possibility of skin irritation, rashes, burning, and sore eyes. Individuals with asthma or lung disease should avoid beaches affected by the toxic algae.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, red tide has been detected in 157 samples along Florida’s Gulf Coast, with the strongest concentrations found along Pinellas and Sarasota counties. The impact of the red tide algae bloom on Florida's beaches is a reminder of the importance of protecting the environment and reducing the presence of pollutants in the water.
In conclusion, the red tide phenomenon, caused by the Karenia brevis algae bloom, has been detected in multiple counties along the coast of Florida. The toxins produced by red tide can cause respiratory problems in humans and animals and harm marine life. Florida's beaches have been significantly impacted, with concentrations of over 100,000 cells/liter detected in Pinellas and Manatee counties.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other organizations are closely monitoring the event and taking measures to mitigate its effects. It is essential for individuals to avoid swimming in or around red tide waters to prevent skin irritation, rashes, burning, and sore eyes. This event is a reminder of the importance of preserving natural resources and taking measures to reduce nutrient pollution in waterways to prevent harmful algae blooms from occurring.