TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - A combination of red tide along Florida’s coastline and blue-green algae in rivers and canals is killing a variety of animals in Florida waters this summer.
Sea turtles, manatees, fish and other animals are seeing a spike in their mortality rate during 2018, especially in Southwest Florida.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, nearly 300 sea turtles have died since a red tide algae bloom started late last year between Sarasota and Collier counties.
FWC marine turtle biologist Robbin Trindell says the increased number is due, in part, to the red tide affecting many of the beaches where the turtles nest during the summer time.
“We are seeing more than double the number of animals being impacted at this time of the year, from the red tide," said Trindell. "We’re even seeing large loggerhead sea turtles being effected, and that’s because this red tide has lasted into the nesting season.”
There have already been at least 490 manatee deaths this year as well, with 80 of them likely caused by red tide.
There were only 379 sea cow deaths in all of 2017. FWC manatee biologist Ron Mezich says several factors have caused 2018 to be a tough year.
“Our mortality numbers this year are up. It’s on pace to be a really high year. That’s due, in part, to having red tide and a very cold winter," said Mezich.
Both biologists say the population numbers should be able to recover long term, as long as there are not several years in a row with high mortality rates.
To report any dead or sick animal, contact FWC’s wildlife alert hotline at 1-888-404-3922.