‘Red tide’ threatens Fla. economy

Source: By AP/Washington Post • Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2014

Slow-moving toxic algae in the Gulf of Mexico is harming wildlife and stands to threaten Florida’s popular beaches and waterways.

The “red tide,” an algae strain called Karenia brevis, occurs almost every year but is especially large this year.

The algae spans an area 60 miles wide and 100 miles long, 5 to 15 miles off the coast of St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It boils up in the propeller wash like boiled red Georgia clay,” Clearwater, Fla., fisherman Brad Gorst said. “It’s spooky.”

The algae kills aquatic life by releasing a toxin that paralyzes their central nervous systems. It also gives beaches an unpleasant appearance and stinky smell. The latter issue could spell trouble for the state’s tourism industry, some analysts say.

The algae “will likely cause considerable damage to our local fisheries and our tourist economy over the next few months,” said Heyward Mathews, an emeritus professor of oceanography at St. Petersburg College (AP/Washington Post, Sept. 17)