Red tides are toxic algae blooms that occur in coastal regions throughout the world. Recently, Florida’s coasts have been invaded by an “unprecedented red tide,” said Nick Roberts of the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. While red tides have happened near Florida’s coastlines for hundreds of years, the intensity of these tides has increased. The magnitude of this year’s red tide is attributed to the negligently managed Florida waterways, such as Lake Okeechobee. 

(photographed by Capt. Tommy Locke outside Cayo Costa)

When Lake Okeechobee overflows from periods of heightened rainfalls, the Army Corps of Engineers has no choice but to release billions of gallons of untreated, polluted water towards the coasts. The organism that causes red tides, karenia brevis, feeds off of aquatic-planktons, which benefit from the nutrient rich–but polluted–Lake Okeechobee discharges. So, these increasingly worse and ongoing red tides are correlated to Florida’s mismanagement of Lake Okeechobee and other waterways.

Red tides have serious consequences for the stability of entire ecosystems; Florida’s coastal environments are no exception. This year’s red tide has proven to be one of the worst in terms of “intensity and duration” and is killing adult tarpon, tens of thousands of adult-spawning snook, and many other marine organisms that make up Florida’s $8 billion dollar recreational fishing industry.

(Photographed by @naturecoastladyanglers )

Something needs to change. Groups like the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Captains for Clean Water, Take Back Our Water, and other groups are actively advocating for the improvement of water conditions so that these ecosystems can be restored and preserved. Check them out, because issues like red tides are not going away.

The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust recommends that people contact their political representatives and ask them to address these growing environmental threats. Also check out their press release on this recent red tide article and be sure to look for updates on the Flylords’ platforms.