Karenia brevis algae – commonly called “red tide” because its colorful blooms turn coastal water red – is appearing on Florida’s western shoreline, and it’s not pretty. Red tide triggers many negative consequences.
Sea creatures suffocate and die because the algae chokes off the oxygen in the water. It can also cause health problems for humans. People are exposed by eating tainted fish, breathing in the toxins that pollute the air, and, in some cases, through skin contact. Bottom line: You really don’t want to hang out on a beach with red tide.
The algae is mostly spread by ships, storms, currents, and the wind. Its growth and spread still troubles scientists. To make matters worse, experts can’t tell when and where this toxic problem will next hit.
No Fun in Florida
Those who usually head to the warmer climate of Florida’s Gulf Coast in the winter are staying home as they wait for the red tide to go away. This problem has cost the state of Florida millions of dollars in scientific research in lost tourism.
Those who believe the climate change theory claim red tide is a side effect of global warming, but so far scientists have not been able to make that connection. Karenia brevis appears to be a mystery that marine experts haven’t yet been able to unravel.