A major weather system could disperse and push the toxic bloom away from the shore.
SARASOTA — The invasion of toxic red tide on Southwest Florida beaches that has slaughtered marine life and sickened humans shows no signs of retreat anytime soon, experts say.
The killer menace, which has turned the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico into a soft-drink brown hue and transformed pristine white sand beaches into ghastly graveyards of rotting sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and whale sharks in recent weeks, doesn’t look like it will loosen its grip on the area, scientists say. There is a “but” in the grim forecast, said Vincent Lovko, a staff scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, an independent research institution in Sarasota that has studied Florida red tide for decades.
A major weather system — such as a hurricane — could potentially rid Southwest Florida of the persistent bloom, which began last October and killed an undetermined amount of marine life, while causing beachgoers to cough, sneeze and experience other respiratory or eye irritation. Sarasota County alone estimates it has removed more than 66 tons of decomposing fish from its beaches since Aug. 1, while the Town of Longboat Key estimates it has cleared 5.22 tons of decaying sea life from its shoreline.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports it has received complaints of respiratory irritation spanning from Manatee to Collier counties.