Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor? I was back on the water this morning and noticed a large number of dead fish floating in the tide, including nice reds. Not good. Not good at all. It sure looked like Red Tide. Hopefully I’m wrong. (See Update)
Red Tide is a naturally occurring toxic algae bloom, noted as far back as the Spanish Explorers. But it can also be a sign of coastal eutrophication What is that? The term comes from the Greek meaning “highly-enriched”. In short polluted, typically with excess nitrogen and phosphorus,which greatly accelerate algae growth. They also cause hypoxia – low dissolved oxygen. Shallow bodies of water such Charlotte Harbors are particularly prone, especially when heavily developed. They receive nutrients off the land from both point and non-point source runoff.
The dirty water we had to swallow all summer from Lake Okeechobee is not helping things one little bit. And it could even be the source of most of the problem. That water is loaded with agricultural pollutants, and we had a huge amount of that crap coming down the Chattahoochee River. It’s an enormous environmental problem without easy solution.
Is it safe to eat fish in a red tide bloom? Scientist tells us it is okay, but not to eat shellfish or a dead fish or distressed fish. And one should not touch dead or distressed fish, swim in a red tide area, or breath the air. In short steer clear.
I also have notice a marked increase in sargassum. It is piling up big time. Is there a connection? Frankly I don’t know. Might be just a coincidence. But it could be that the same currents and tides that brought the sargassum into the Harbor also carried the red tide algae.