from arufon – 08/13/2005′, ‘this is really getting scary…
Saturday, August 13
Divers In Gulf Report `Zero Things’ Alive
By MIKE SALINERO msalinero@…
Published: Aug 11, 2005
CLEARWATER – Diver Mike Miller struggles to convey the horror he has
seen on the ocean floor. He struggles because there are only so many
ways you can say dead.
I’m talking zero things are alive out there,” Miller said.
only way to describe it is a nuclear bomb.”
Miller and other alarmed divers say they have documented a dead zone
20 miles offshore in the Gulf waters from Johns Pass to Clearwater.
This information, combined with an unprecedented number of dead
turtles washing up on Pinellas County beaches this week, has divers,
fishermen and scientists worried that red tide is killing more
Normally when we get a red tide, you can go a little north or a
little west or south or someplace else and dive,” said Ben
Dautermen, who takes divers out of Clearwater on his charter boat.
Usually it doesn’t kill every single thing.”
Red tide, an algae toxic to fish and an irritant to humans who
breathe its choking vapors, has hung stubbornly to Florida’s west
coast for close to three months. Miller and other longtime locals who
make their living in the Gulf say it’s the worst outbreak in their
Though it’s not certain that red tide killed the turtles, scientists
at the Fish & Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg think the
toxic algae wiped out sea life, creating the dead zone Miller and
other divers discovered.
The scientists’ theory goes like this: Red tide cells don’t like to
pass through water temperature differences of more than 2 degrees.
Scientists think a thermocline, or zone of cold water, formed above
the warmer water at the bottom, holding the algae bloom there longer
than it naturally would stay.
So the things that would not normally be affected were exposed for
longer periods,” said Jeremy Lake, spokesman for the institute.
The toxic atmosphere worsened as dead organisms such as crabs and
shellfish decomposed, consuming dissolved oxygen in the water.
Lake said the institute sent 10 biologists Wednesday for a three-day
cruise to gather information on the dead zone and the status of the
Since Sunday, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has picked up 20 dead
sea turtles. Four sick turtles are being given around-the-clock care
at the aquarium. The turtles, too weak to swim, are being kept on wet
mats and covered with wet towels, said Dana Zucker, the aquarium’s
director of community relations. They are hosed down every 30
Most of the turtles are loggerheads, but there also have been a few
Kemp’s ridleys, one of the most endangered types of turtles, said
Janine Cianciolo, veterinarian and director of animal care at the
aquarium. Cianciolo said the turtles were showing signs of red tide
intoxication, but the cause of death won’t be known until tissue
samples are analyzed.
Reporter Mike Salinero can be reached at (813) 259-8303.