Enhances Cleanup Efforts, Deploys State Biologists
Governor Rick Scott is directing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to mobilize all available resources to address red tide impacts in Southwest Florida’s coastal communities. Red tide is a naturally occurring algae that has been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840s and occurs nearly every year. FWC and DEP will enhance cleanup efforts, public awareness initiatives and water testing to ensure that Floridians understand the best ways to minimize the impact of red tide. FWC will deploy additional scientists to assist local efforts to save animals affected by the naturally occurring red tide. The agencies will also meet with local officials and update the public on what steps are being taken to mitigate red tide.
Governor Scott said, “Today, I am directing additional state resources to provide relief to our coastal communities that are being impacted by red tide. During my time in office, we have invested millions of dollars to research and mitigate red tide along Florida’s Gulf Coast. With this year’s red tide being more substantial than previous years, we must do everything we can to help minimize its harm to our water and wildlife. We will continue to support Florida’s biologists to study the best ways to combat red tide, and our state wildlife and environmental professionals will aid Florida communities that are being impacted.”
“FWC is aligning our resources with the needs of local communities as we work together to manage this important issue,” said Eric Sutton, executive director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Keeping the public informed by providing updated information is a priority.”
Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President & CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory said, “We applaud Governor Scott for taking actions towards achieving this goal to further benefit Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems. Mote welcomes the opportunity of working more closely with the Governor, FWC, DEP and all our university and local community partners to leverage and make most efficient use of any additional state funding and resources that may be made available for achieving greatest impact in the fight against red tide.”
DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “DEP stands ready to partner with and further support local communities, FWC and Mote Marine Lab to manage and minimize the impacts of red tide.”
The State of Florida continues to partner with Mote Marine to study the causes of red tide, and since 2013, Mote Marine has received more than $5.5 million in state funding for red tide research. Also, this year’s budget signed by the Governor invests $2.1 million for manatee rehabilitation.
Red tide blooms, or higher-than-normal concentrations of the Florida red tide algae, Karenia brevis, frequently occur in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide begins in the Gulf of Mexico 10 to 40 miles offshore and can be moved inshore by winds and currents. For more information about the status of naturally occurring red tide, visit myfwc.com/redtidestatus. To report a fish kill, contact the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511.
Currently, FWC is taking the following actions:
- FWC operates the toll-free fish kill hotline. To report fish kills, contact the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online. Reports from this hotline help FWC researchers track and better understand the impact of red tide in Florida.
- FWC remains available to local agencies and partners in affected areas, including area business and tourism groups in Southwest Florida. Any local agency or group that has any questions or concerns can contact Kelly Richmond from the FWC at 727-502-4784.
- FWC continues to partner with the Florida Department of Health to advise residents and visitors of any potential health impacts. Residents and visitors can contact the DOH’s aquatic toxin experts at 850-245-4250 or contact their local health department for any concern about health safety.
- FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and Mote Marine Laboratory work together to monitor Karenia brevis. This cooperative effort is designed to help mitigate the adverse impacts of red tide. This joint research program that includes red tide monitoring, research and public outreach and education has resulted in better tools and ongoing monitoring for red tides along the Gulf Coast.
- In partnership with the FWC, the Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides (CPR) at the University of South Florida offer a new Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) tracking tool that generates a 3.5-day forecast of the bloom trajectories.
- To protect public health, FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) group closely monitors the status of K. brevis on Florida’s coasts, providing technical support to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the agency that regulates approved shellfish harvesting areas.
- Since 2000, FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute established a Red Tide Offshore Monitoring Program, which is a volunteer program for citizens to help collect water samples from routine collection points and sites reported for suspected harmful algal blooms (HABs). The timely sampling by volunteers allows researchers to provide an early warning of offshore algal blooms and investigate reported events as they occur. The Program needs volunteers to collect samples from all coastal Florida counties. To view more information visit, Red Tide Offshore Monitoring Program or use the Volunteer SignUp Form.