Gov. Scott declares state of emergency over toxic algae bloom

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Florida sees red tide - an algae outbreak that can kill marine life and sicken humans - almost every year, but the current flare-up has become severe enough to warrant a state of emergency declaration from Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

For all its horrific effects, the Red Tide is not a new phenomenon.

For humans, exposure can cause respiratory difficulties, burning eyes and skin irritation.

Microscopic karenia bravis cells create a ghastly panorama when they burst into life, turning the seas blood red and spelling doom for marine creatures great and small throughout infected coastal waters, coves and inlets.

The Florida Wildlife Research Institute says the number of dead and stranded sea turtles is almost three times higher than average.

The state executive order 18-221 was announced August 13 - after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties - sending aid to responders in their efforts to combat red tide.

In hopes of combating future outbreaks, scientists are field testing a patented process that would pump red-algae-tainted seawater into an ozone-treatment system and then pump the purified water back into the affected canal, cove or inlet, Crosby said.

Meanwhile, Scott said his office is "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".

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Experiments carried out in huge 25,000-gallon tanks succeeded in removing all traces of the algae and its toxins, with the water chemistry reverting to normal within 24 hours, he said.

Myers in recent days, according to NBC News, in his quest to find any nitrogen-rich substances that might feed the red tide.

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

Scientists statewide and with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration are trying to understand the lengthy lifespan of this year's bloom, which began in October 2017.

For reasons not well understood, strong northerly winds that normally break up a red tide by December failed to materialize last winter, Stumpf said. "I don't think you're going to see much of an end to this until we get into the dry season".

Researchers are watching oceanographic conditions in the region carefully and using forecasting tools not unlike seasonal weather forecasts to predict how long this bloom will last.

Accompanying the emergency declaration is a "significant amount of funding" and "resources", according to Scott's office.

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