In an update on the red tide in Southwest Florida, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says bloom of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, persists in the area.
Fish kills have been reported over the past week in multiple locations in Manatee County, in Sarasota County, in Charlotte County, in Lee County, and in and offshore of Collier County.
Respiratory irritation was reported over the past week in numerous places along Florida’s west coast.
The National Ocean Service says while many people call these blooms ‘red tides,’ scientists prefer the term harmful algal bloom. One of the best known HABs in the nation occurs nearly every summer along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Red tides have been documented along Florida’s gulf coast since the 1840’s.
This bloom, like many HABs, is caused by microscopic algae that produce toxins that kill fish and make shellfish dangerous to eat. The toxins may also make the surrounding air difficult to breathe. As the name suggests, the bloom of algae often turns the water red.
Karenia brevis was named for Dr. Karen A. Steidinger in 2001, and was previously known as Gymnodinium breve and Ptychodiscus brevis. Karenia brevis is a marine dinoflagellate common in Gulf of Mexico waters, and is the organism responsible for the “tides” (coastal infestations) termed red tides that affect Gulf coasts—of Florida and Texas in the U.S., and nearby coasts of Mexico. It is the source organism for various toxins found present during such “tides”, including the eponymously named brevetoxins.