The Weather Channel is reporting that a massive toxic red tide is killing marine life off the coast of Florida. According to the Weather Channel, the large blooms of red algae are located about five miles off St. Petersburg and measure an astonishing 60 miles wide by 100 miles long. Once local fisherman told The Weather Channel:
“It boils up in the propeller wash like boiled red Georgia clay. It’s spooky.”
Red tide kills fish, manatees and other marine life by releasing a toxin that paralyzes their central nervous system. The algae also foul beaches and can be harmful to people who inhale the algae’s toxins when winds blow onshore or is dispersed into the air by crashing waves. Skin contact with red tide water can cause skin irritation and burning. Fatalities have been reported (including two in 2013) after eating fish (typically shellfish) that had been contaminated with red tide toxin. Despite years of study, scientists have yet to figure out a means to battle the toxic algae blooms.