Florida – The Toxic Algae State

Occasionally we use this blog to look outside our state at activities that may give insight to our State’s water resource management. For this post, I wanted to look at a bad situation occurring in Florida.  There, sea birds, mammals, fish, and humans are suffering from a harmful algae bloom along the Gulf shores where a red tide originating in October 2017, has persisted and created a toxic environment for marine life and coastal residents.

A primary contributor to the bloom reportedly is legacy nutrients from Florida’s agricultural industry that were washed out of Lake Okeechobee by Hurricane Irma in 2017.  The load of nutrients timed with seasonal red tide conditions to amplify an already bad situation.

The effects of the toxic algae have touched a broad array of marine fish. Goliath groupers, sea turtles, feeder fish are all washing up dead.

Some of the conditions contributing to the bloom in Florida are present in North Carolina (previous blog posts).  While the State has a number of nutrient reduction strategies in place, The State’s Environmental Management Commission is currently reviewing and revising those.  North Carolina should be mindful of the threat of excess nutrients in their strategy update and curb nutrient laden runoff from our waterways.

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