Toll from worst S.W. Florida red tide in decade grows

A boat sails through a deepening algae bloom across the Caloosahatchee River in Labelle Florida on June 27

Miami Herald via Getty Images A boat sails through a deepening algae bloom across the Caloosahatchee River in Labelle Florida on June 27

The sparkling white sand of Florida's southwestern beaches aren't dotted with sunbathers this week.

"As we continue to work with our partners to respond to the ongoing red tide event in Southwest Florida, we ask that you report any dead or distressed marine mammals and see turtles to our wildlife alert hotline", the FWC wrote on its official Instagram account Wednesday alongside images of workers rescuing a manatee sickened by red tide exposure.

It is believed a combination of coastal pollution and nutrient-laden water being flushed into the warm waters of the gulf from Lake Okeechobee have caused the particularly severe red tide.

According to USA network CNN, this year's effect of the red tide on marine life has been unprecedented.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, almost 300 sea turtles have died since a red tide algae bloom started late previous year between Sarasota and Collier counties.

The harmful algae bloom has also been hurting businesses in the area.

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The city is issuing a daily "fish kill clean-up" report because of the "unprecedented volume of dead sea life now washing up".

A wind shift is likely what caused the thousands of dead fish to wash ashore on normally pristine Sanibel Island this past weekend. The FWC reports that this recent bloom has been monitored since November.

But the bloom is not only risky to marine animals.

K. brevis produces neurotoxins that can sicken and kill fish, seabirds, turtles and other marine life.

Red tide is the name given to the blooms of a species of microorganisms that have a distinct red colour.

The Miami Herald reported the blue-green algae outbreak had grabbed national attention.

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