Red Tide Affecting Florida’s Marine Wildlife

Scores of dead fish litter the shorelines of beaches in southwest Florida, and hundreds of dead and ailing sea turtles have washed up on shores there in recent weeks — all victims of a toxic red tide caused by the single-cell alga Karenia brevis.

Algal blooms occur seasonally in the Gulf of Mexico, when water conditions enable their populations to explode and spread. But this year’s event includes especially high quantities of algae that produce a toxin, and the impact on marine wildlife is devastating, affecting sea birds as well as fish and turtles in unprecedented numbers.

A 230-pound male loggerhead turtle was suffering from the effects of red tide.

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