Published: Tue, August 14, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declares state of emergency over red tide algae

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declares state of emergency over red tide algae

"Today, I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its awful impacts", Scott said.

According to Gov. Rick Scott, Red tide is a naturally occurring algae that has been documented along Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840's and occurs almost every year.

"I am also directing a further $900,000 in grants for Lee County to clean up impacts related to red tide -- bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million", Scott said.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday for several counties dealing with the nine-month-old red tide algae bloom which has hurt Florida's economy.

The counties with health and safety concerns include Lee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Collier and Manatee, where the algae bloom has killed fish, turtles, manatees and potentially 11 dolphins and a whale shark, The Tampa Bay Times reports.

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In response, the emergency declaration sets aside state funding to clean-up the shoreline as well as help save marine animals and the tourism industry. The first recorded instances was in the 1840s, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Part of the reason why red tide is so prominent this season is because there are some leftover blooms from a year ago, Bob Weisberg, a professor of physical oceanography at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science, told ABC News.

Scott's action also will send more than $100,000 to Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, which has been on the front lines of the algae bloom.

"While we fight to learn more about this naturally-occurring phenomenon, we will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover", added Scott.

FWC, now operating under the emergency declaration, has waived rules - like bag sizes and limits - "to expedite the removal of dead fish", according to Scott's office. Scott's office said the money would enable the lab to "deploy additional scientists to assist local efforts to save animals affected" by the bloom.

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