October 2, 2013 at 2:12 am #652MikeKeymaster
Posted on Sat, Mar. 26, 2005
Herald Staff Writer
MANATEE – Three weeks after the first dead manatee was found, the
number of endangered marine mammals believed killed by a lingering
red tide in southwest Florida has reached 43.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday collected the 42nd
and 43rd dead manatees, both from the Caloosahatchee River.
“It is not over, from what we are seeing,” said Allison Bozarth of
the commission. “We can’t predict when it is going to stop.”
Red tide is a naturally occurring bloom of algae in the Gulf that can
be toxic to fish and marine mammals. Red tide also can cause
respiratory irritation in people, affecting the quality of life for
residents and curbing tourism.
Spanish records report red tides in the Gulf as far back as the
1500s, but scientists today are debating whether nutrient runoff from
development, farming and phosphate mining is making red tides last
longer and occur more frequently.
This year marks the fourth time in a decade that red tide has led to
mass manatee deaths. In 1996, according to state data, 149 manatees
died from red tide. The toll was 34 in 2002 and 96 in 2003.
Scientists fear the succession of red tide deaths could overstress an
already struggling species.
The state weekly report released Friday shows red tide is offshore
between Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay. No positive counts were found
south of Sarasota Bay.
Offshore samples though were not received this week, and dead fish
were reported offshore of Fort Myers. Dead fish and two dead pelicans
were also reported in lower Tampa Bay, the report said.
Mote Marine Laboratory staff scientist Michael Henry said the red
tide appears to have become more patchy and lower in concentrations,
though he added that change does not necessarily mean the red tide is
“I have been doing this for 18 years and I couldn’t tell you if it
was going away or going to get stronger again,” Henry said. “But this
is definitely a move in the right direction.”
People generally experience red tide effects if concentrations are
elevated offshore and the wind is blowing onshore, like it did
Thursday in some parts of Anna Maria Island.
But overall since the red tide moved into the region in January, it
has not been a rough year for red tide for beachgoers, said Bradenton
Beach Mayor John Chappie.
“All in all it hasn’t been too bad. We have had worse (years),”
Chappie said. “It just seems every once in a while when the wind is
blowing you get it.”
Larry White, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and
Visitor’s Bureau, said he has not received an inordinate number of
complaints of respiratory problems this year.
“As far as tourism, if there is any impact, it has been negligible,”
Scott Radway, environmental reporter, can be reached at 708-7919 or
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