After 15 months of being plagued by red tide, tests of Florida waters show the organism was not detected this past week.
This is big news since the region has been impacted by red tide since November 2017, causing irrevocable damage to wildlife.
In the mid-week update report released on Wednesday, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced the presence of the organism was not observed in daily water samples collected from southwest Florida, northwest Florida, or along Florida’s east coast.
Red tide blooms are fast-moving colonies of an algae, Karenia brevis, that drift through the water and often turn it the color red. The algae release toxins when they die that are deadly to marine life. It can also irritate people’s skin and lead to respiratory problems, especially for people with asthma. The blooms normally start in October through winter, but this one lasted over a year.
In August, the red tide produced 2,000 tons of dead marine life and cost businesses more than $8 million. In the same month, Florida’s then-Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for seven counties in southwestern Florida giving more state funding to local governments and research agencies.
While Florida isn’t in the clear yet, this week’s test results give the area new hope as the peak tourist season is right around the corner.
Last week, the FWC reported a test in one Collier County water sample came back showing a background concentration (up to 1,000 cells of K. Brevis per liter) of the organism was detected. A fish kill was reported in the same county but not anywhere else in the state.
Earlier this month, the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida announced it will be releasing more than 16,000 redfish into southwest Florida in an effort to recover the thousands that were killed by red tide.