Although Algal Blooms happen in most water systems fresh and saltwater there is no place where Algal Blooms called “Red Tide” is making an impact more than the Florida coastal regions where is threaten sea life and tourism that is such a huge factor in the state. What is Florida’s Red Tide Map 2021 and how does it work?
The Fish & Wildlife Commission’s map contains the last eight days of sampling & is updated daily by reports on the current status of Karenia Brevis blooms with the help of NOAA, using tables, buoys, static maps, satellites, interactive Google Earth maps & visual reports from the people of Florida.
Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. The human illnesses caused by HABs, though rare, can be debilitating or even fatal. One of the best-known HABs in the nation occurs nearly every summer along Florida’s Gulf Coast called Red Tide.
Where Does Red tide Come From
For hundreds of years, the Red Tide has been reported in the same regions of Florida and other places around the world. Within the United States, red tides occur most commonly in the Gulf of Mexico, off California, and in the Gulf of Maine.
Spanish explorers described finding massive fish kills in the 1500s, and the phenomenon was first scientifically documented in the 1840s. A massive Florida red tide event that started in November 1946 lasted roughly a year and killed an estimated 1 billion fish.
State researchers say accounts of red tide events date back hundreds of years, to the first arrivals of Europeans in Florida. But blooms in 1947 may have been the first time it was named Red Tide by a charter captain quoted in area newspapers. So its been around long before the problems of man-made pollution.
What Causes Red Tide in Florida
Naturally existing Karenia Brevis feed off a variety of nutrients. When there are higher levels of nutrients, they can explode into a bloom that can be spread by currents and wind patterns. These nutrients can include fertilizer runoff pollution. It is higher than the normal concentration of microscopic algae. When it forms off the Gulf Coast of Florida, It can discolor the saltwater-affected making on making it look brownish-red color.
While environmentalists note the correlation between the flow of fertilizer-polluted water from Lake Okeechobee into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists have not drawn a direct link between lake runoff and the outbreak of red tide off Sarasota and Manatee counties. Reducing pollution from Septic systems is one way to combat this and is directly related to Red Tide. Normal nutrients are not the sole cause of the outbreak of Karenia Brevis but scientists say they do contribute to them.
Some Blooms have also been reported in the aftermath of natural phenomena like sluggish water circulation, unusually high water temperatures, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and drought. Studies indicate that many algal species flourish when wind and water currents are favorable.
Red Tide Current Status from Fish & Wildlife Commission Scientists at the National Ocean Service have been monitoring and studying this phenomenon for a number of years to determine how to detect and forecast the location of the blooms. The goal is to give communities advance warnings so they can adequately plan for and deal with the adverse environmental and health effects associated with these ‘red-tide events. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Harmful Algal Bloom Database, which provides information on the presence (as a categorical abundance) and absence of Karenia Brevis. The information is the current status for the region you are interested in.
How Long Does Red Tide Last
Red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer than a year. They can even subside and then reoccur. There have been blooms in the last decade or two, where they have lasted more than one year and then stopped. This one is from 2018 is somewhat different and scarier because it’s an ongoing threat to aquatic life and growth.
Vincent Lovko, staff scientist and program manager for Phytoplankton Ecology at Mote Marine in Sarasota, Florida said the Red Tide season is typically from late summer to late fall. Scientist say from September to October is typically when red tides reach their peak of severity and then disappears.
How and when a red tide bloom will end is difficult to predict. A good storm with enough wind and rain can break up a bloom and push it out to sea, “but that doesn’t always work,“ Lovko said. “In 2012 we had a remnant of a hurricane come through and broke it apart, but it came back and was one of the worse we’ve seen.”
Daily Sampling and monitoring identify the location and extent of the bloom and rely on satellite imagery, field observations, models, public health reports, and buoy data to provide information on bloom events.
|NOT PRESENT- BACKGROUND||background levels of 1,000 cells or less||no effects anticipated|
|VERY LOW||> 1,000 – 10,000 cells/L||possible respiratory irritation; shellfish harvesting closures when cell abundance equals or exceeds 5,000 cells/L|
|LOW||> 10,000 – 100,000 cells/L||respiratory irritation; shellfish harvesting closures; possible fish kills; probable detection of chlorophyll by satellites at upper range of cell abundance|
|MEDIUM||> 100,000 – 1,000,000 cells/L||respiratory irritation; shellfish harvesting closures; probable fish kills; detection of surface chlorophyll by satellites|
|HIGH||> 1,000,000 cells/L||as above, plus water discoloration|
Red tide blooms are hard to predict and can last days, weeks, or months, and can also change daily due to wind conditions. Onshore winds and water movements normally bring it near the shore and offshore winds drive it out to sea.
How to Get Rid of Red Tide
In the early 2000s, NOAA funded studies to test the use of clays to control red tides. Since that time, different types of clays have been developed that have fewer environmental effects and are in the initial phases of testing. This method involves a modified clay mineral that, when dispersed into the ocean surface, binds with red tide cells and the toxins they produce and settles them down to the ocean floor where they are eventually buried.
Nano Aeration bubbles are being used in freshwater HABs successfully and chemicals that are toxic to Karenia Brevis algal but not to other living organisms that are in the same habitat. The scientist also looked at other living organisms that may affect the growth of Karenia Brevis algal in their own environment to keep their population from growing.
The most important procedure and control used for the onset of Red Tide today is collaboration. NOAA and Florida’s Fish & Wildlife collects Information that comes from sampling by hand or automated stations strategically located to satellites collecting optical information in space to the lifeguard who is observing from the actual beach site.
- Daily Sample Map
- Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides
- USF Optical Oceanography Laboratory
- Harmful Algal Bloom Observing System
- Beach Conditions Reporting System
- Harmful Algal Bloom Operational Forecast System
- Experimental Red Tide Respiratory Forecast
- Protecting Florida Together
Another good article on Red Tide here on MyWaterEarth&Sky is called How Long Does Florida’s Red Tide Normally Last –Check it out for updated information!
References: NOAA-Harmful Algal Blooms(HAB)
National Center for Coastal Ocean Science–Gulf of Mexico Harmful Algal Bloom Forecast
MyWaterEarth&Sky.com-How Long Does Florida’s Red Tide Normally Last