Mote wildlife responders thank state for red tide aid

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Gov. Rick Scott, a man who over the past eight years cut almost $700 million from Florida's environmental agencies (many of whom oversee algae outbreaks) declared a state of emergency today to combat our current algae outbreak.

How is red tide affecting Florida?

The toxins are often fatal to marine life.

The Florida Wildlife Research Institute says the number of dead and stranded sea turtles is almost three times higher than average.

Lee County, home to Fort Myers and Cape Coral, also will receive $900,000 in grant funding for cleanup projects related to red tide, Scott announced.

Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties are now under a state of emergency due to the toxic algae bloom, and his office added in a statement that "red tide is a naturally occurring algae that has been documented along Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840s and occurs almost every year". The storm moved nutrients that were inland into coastal waters, and nutrients help algae to grow, according to NASA.

Red tides occur on an nearly yearly basis off Florida, starting out in the Gulf of Mexico where swarms of microscopic algae cells called Karenia brevis feed on deep-sea nutrients and are sometimes carried by currents close to shore, usually in the fall.

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Hopes of tackling future Red Tides are heightening with scientists field-testing a process that can pump red-algae tainted seawater into an ozone-treatment system that pumps purified water into affected coves and inlets.

"I called on the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to help with the algae & red tide crisis here in Florida", Nelson tweeted. When asked whether Florida's red tides are natural or human-caused, Donald Anderson, director of the U.S. National Office for Harmful Algal Blooms, told National Geographic, "The answer is probably some of both".

For reasons not well understood, strong northerly winds that normally break up a red tide by December failed to materialize last winter, Stumpf said.

The bloom began back in November, making it the longest bloom in the past decade.

In response, the emergency declaration sets aside state funding to clean-up the shoreline as well as help save marine animals and the tourism industry.

The latest bloom coincided with the spawning season for snook, an ecologically important and popular game fish in Florida, Crosby said.

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