Red Tide, we all keep hearing about it, but what is it and what can we do to pitch in and do our part to help Florida pull through the hot season when the red tide is more abundant than ever.
Red tide is a condition in shoreline waters that is a result of algal blooms. During a red tide, there is so much algae that the water can start to change colors to a reddish hue or have clumps of floating red goo. The result of this overabundance of algae is a depletion of oxygen, as well as a release of toxins into the water that can be harmful to animals and humans. Some of the more common contributing factors include warm temperatures at the surface level of the ocean, a low salinity content, calm waters, high nutrient content in the water and periods of rain followed by sunny days during the hot and humid summer months.
Currently in our state, Florida, there are around 25 phosphogypsum, or gyp stacks, are plants that mine phosphates to create many pesticides to fertilize the entire state. Many of these plants have reservoirs to house the toxic wastewater, some of these sites are even abandoned. One in particular near St.Petersburg, Piney Point has been left, and not kept up to code to ensure the security of essentially a huge dyke housing the water, some 900 billion gallons. State regulators have allowed other companies to dump dredge water and other process groundwater into the vast lake. There has been a breach earlier this year and now we already seeing the devastating effects on The Bay area. This combined with stormwater and rising temperatures, which has been heating the oceans much sooner this year, produced an abundance of algae suffocating the oxygen and is ultimately causing an ecosystem to shut down.
Many marine life have been hit hard. Massive fish, tarpon, snook, Golilath Grouper, manatees, dolphins, and tons and tons of other smaller fish have literally encased the town of Coquina cove. Every government employee has been redirected just to clean the mess, but what is being done to try and prevent this from happening at accelerated rates. This week alone they have removed 25,000 dead fish from one town! Thats unheard of before, some 19 tons. The local governments have further been continuing to tell us that mosquito control, spraying of the actual surrounding shrubbery in the lake and surrounding canals is necessary. They spray communities of backyards canals with pesticides, yet they tell us not to use them on our lawns.
Now, these algae are natural occuring, but mixed with the man-made nutrients that are in these sprays and spills their growth is fueled. While there is no way to prevent these occurrences from naturally happening, we can all show some love to our oceans and help not fuel the process.
Here are some things you can do to be more conscious and present about our planets first real cry for help in mankind's lifetime.
When you eat out at seafood or sushi restaurants, or grocery shopping, ask where the fish comes from, if its farmed or sustainable. Sustainable foods mean that they are harvested in ways that do not negatively impact the environment. They are practices that can be sustained long term, without destroying the species, and also maintaining the well being of the fishing economy.
Always try to use less plastics and be more aware of your carbon footprint.
Make noise!! Petition your HOA, or change the way you fertilize your yard to something organic and less harmful for the groundwater. In the heavy storms to come it will all end up in the oceans from flooding.
Be landscape smart. It goes beyond just having a pretty yard. Choosing native, low maintainence plants can reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers. Another way to keep harmful chemicals from reaching the ocean is by choosing porous surfaces, such as shells, brick pavers and recycled rubber, for your landscaping. This decreases stormwater runoff, which keeps harmful chemicals away from water systems.
Petition your politicians to stay on top of finding an eco-friendly way to dispose of these waste sheds. To also change the laws and have stricter regulations on the big companies in our state that dump toxic water in reservoirs or aquifers. Essentially poisoning our food and water sources. In 2016, a sinkhole in one of the gyp stacks sucked 215 million gallons directly into the Floridan Aquifer, which supplies water to virtually everyone in Florida north of Palm Beach. There are numerous stories of lesser spills and leaks in between those incidents, and they continue to occur.
Encouraging our state and federal elected official to provide consistent and target research and technology development funding to mitigate and control harmful algal blooms.
Report, report, report. FWC tracks fish kills, algal blooms and distressed marine life to try and keep a control on the blooms and how hard they hit our fishing communities. Report distressed or deceased wildlife anywhere in Florida to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) – 888-404-3922. To report fish kills, contact the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online. Share these numbers with friends and loved ones who spend time on the coast.
Vote! With current legislation such as House Bill 1135 and Senate Bill 1552, which would establish the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative.
Lastly, get involved. Do you want to test water samples? There’s an organization for that. Do you want to release clams to help reduce the red tide? There’s a group for that. There’s even a volunteer base that cleans dead fish off the beach. Do some research and find one that sounds interesting to you.
Pick up your rubbish. Join a local beach clean, our sister run volunteer organization the Bikini Beach CleanUp goes out and cleans the shorelines to fight against pollution. Our next clean will be August 7th in Boca Raton
. Stay in touch on the website and Instagram page to get involved.