Six Florida counties are now in a state of emergency as a result of the red tide – a toxic algae bloom that is threatening the state’s marine life and tourism.
Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency due to the impact of red tide in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. According to a statement from the governor, the red tide is a naturally occurring alga that has been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840’s.
“As Southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area continue to feel the devastating impacts of red tide, we will continue taking an aggressive approach by using all available resources to help our local communities,” Governor Scott said.
“Today, I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its terrible impacts. This includes making additional FWC biologists and scientists available to assist in clean-up and animal rescue efforts.”
Mote Marine Laboratory will receive more than $100,000 as part of the emergency plan while Visit Florida will receive $500,000 to help local communities continue to bring in visitors, which support many Florida families and businesses, the statement said.
“In addition to the emergency order, I am also directing a further $900,000 in grants for Lee County to clean up impacts related to red tide – bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million,” he said.
“While we fight to learn more about this naturally-occurring phenomenon, we will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover.”
Red tides occur naturally, but other factors are said to play a role in a bloom. These factors include salinity, temperature and wind. The toxic outbreak is not just harmful to marine life, but to humans as well. It can affect anyone who breathes in toxins from the algae or comes into physical contact with it.