As Florida continues to see the worst algal bloom in over a decade, the impact of the deadly algal is evident as marine creatures are dying in high numbers.
Now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been responded to the most recent incident finding of a dead whale shark nearly 26 feet long. While partnering with NOAA, the FWC is in the process of performing a necropsy which will be able to determine the cause of the death. Although the cause of death is unconfirmed, the signs point to the red tide algal bloom as the culprit.
This discovery of the whale shark is adds to the growing number of deaths due to red tide poisoning. This year has seen the death of dozens of sea turtles and even nine bottlenose dolphins that were discovered on Sarasota beach.
The nine dolphins reportedly washed ashore over a three-day period from Aug. 7 to Aug. 9 and are believed to have been infected by an outbreak of red tide. “A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism),” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explained on their website.
Red tide can kill fish, birds, marine mammals, and cause illness in humans. Over the last 10 months, the bloom has changed in intensity and distribution. Recent numbers indicate concentrations of 1 million cells per liter and higher, with major health issues starting when levels reach 10,000 cells per liter, according to the FWC.
The organism that causes red tide in southwest Florida occurs naturally, but due to known and fixable problems with water table drainage and more increased land usage for farming and development are the blooms are lasting longer.
Currently, officials have no timetable for the ending of this seasons red tide and they warn beachgoers to report anything that looks out place and to call officials with any animal deaths or strandings.