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Get out of the way! Red tide descends on Florida beaches

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/14/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Toxic microscopic organisms threaten beach wildlife

The largest outbreak of a toxic red tide of algae since 2005 has put Florida on alert.

This red tide, caused by blooming microscopic algae, can cause severe health effects in anyone with respiratory illnesses.

This red tide, caused by blooming microscopic algae, can cause severe health effects in anyone with respiratory illnesses.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/14/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Florida, US, News, Health, Science


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Karenia brevis is the scientific name for a phenomenon in which microscope algae blooms explode in numbers producing harmful chemicals which can cause potentially lethal respiratory problems.

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"These kind of blooms damage wildlife, people, tourism, everything. It can kill fish by the millions," said Don Anderson, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

This algae can also incredibly harmful to people who suffer from chronic asthma, bronchitis or emphysema, but even those who don't suffer from any of these respiratory conditions can feel the red tide's effects. Those near the bloom may experience coughing, sneezing, itchy skin and teary eyes.

"When the wind blows, you can't really breathe," said Anderson. "You start wheezing and coughing and you have to wear a surgical mask or move inland."

The algae is always present in the Gulf of Mexico in negligible amounts, large blooms can turn the sea into a reddish brown color.

Currently, this bloom is 20 miles off the coast of Florida, too far to affect any on the beach for the time being.

This red tide appears nearly every year, usually in late Summer early Fall, but officials have not seen a bloom this size since 2005. This bloom is thought to stretch 90 miles long and 60 miles wide, and at least 100 feet deep.

Humans risk only a few days of bed rest from the toxic algae, but animals are far more susceptible, including fish, octopi, crabs, birds, dolphins and manatees.

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