Waves of marine life dying off in Florida ‘red tide’

The bodies of many different species of marine life — such as fish, sea turtles, eels, goliath groupers and even manatees — have washed ashore on Boca Grande beach in Florida over the past week.

Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told ABC10 that “red tide” is likely causing the deaths.

A red tide, formally known as a harmful algal bloom (HAB), occurs when “colonies of algae — simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater — grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds,” according to the National Ocean Service.

“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 surrounding air difficult to breathe. As the name suggests, the bloom of algae often turns the water red,” according to the service.

A red tide is not uncommon, especially along Florida’s gulf coast. But the effects can be deadly for marine life.

“Hundreds of goliath groupers dead, dolphins, manatees, sea turtles. It’s significant death to that ecosystem,” longtime Boca Grande fisherman Chris O’Neill, who posted a video to Facebook documenting the dead marine life, told the news station.

“The larger fish have gotten hit in great numbers, and that’s what really concerned me,” he added.

As of Friday afternoon, the fisherman’s video had more than 2 million views and 5,000 reactions.

O’Neill is “pleading” with wildlife officials to take action, ABC10 reported.

“The FWC takes this matter very seriously,” spokeswoman Melody Kilborn told ABC10, adding that the organization is “identifying the affected species” and working to determine how many fish have died.

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