Manasota Key Musings

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A Post On Red Tide Watch That Needs To Be Shared

A post from Greg Bowdish that is highly informative and needs to be shared 👊🏻🎣😀👍🏻

Dear Florida friends,

I am seeing a ton of misinformation about the red tide and algae blooms (some of that misinformation is being spread by camps that have a financial interest counter to your well being) and I want to make some key points about what is happening. It’s a long story why I am knowledgeable about this particular problem, but what I have to share comes from kind scientists and marine biologists who took the time out to educate me, and quite a lot of firsthand experience with the water releases coming from Lake Okeechobee and its horrific effect on the Florida coast. I am not presenting this as scientific data, just what a dude who cared gleaned from observation and doing a little homework.

1. DANGER! PLEASE STAY AWAY from red tide, blue green algae, and the dead plants and animal life covering the shores, unless you have sufficient respiratory protection and skin and eye protection. This is no joke. There is a neurotoxin called BMAA that is found in both the blue green algae and red tide (both cyanobacterias) that has a scientifically proven link to ALS, PARKINSON’S DISEASE, and ALZHEIMER’S! Human populations that live in areas where they are exposed to cyanobacterias and BMAA have a significantly higher rate of these diseases than they should otherwise have. If you are genetically predisposed, treat this like nuclear waste.

2. Practice common sense. If there are a lot of dead things around, it is probably not a safe place for you, your children, or your pets. Where there are dead things, there is a ton of bacteria (red tide and blue green algae are actually a type of bacteria!), so going swimming, touching anything near the beach, or breathing in the air near a bloom (or the effects of a bloom) on the coast is not wise. There are a host of diseases awaiting your carelessness. Stay indoors, be aware of the risks when you smell red tide, and limit exposure however possible.

3. Yes, red tide is naturally occuring. It comes from far offshore, and is pushed towards the coast by wind and tide. It does NOT come from the water releases from Okeechobee. This is what Big Sugar wants you to understand and share, and it is absolutely true. Science backs it up. The problem is semantics. The IMPORTANT POINT here is that the massive influx of phosphates and nitrates into the Gulf from agricultural runoff from Lake Okeechobee water releases feed that red tide algae and causes it to explode into a massive bloom, which continues to spread wherever the right conditions and nutrients persist. Red tide comes from the Gulf – but it feeds on phosphate and nitrate, which is what is in the runoff coming from the sugar fields. Do not blame red tide or say red tide is a problem – it is not! It is naturally occurring. The problem is phosphate and nitrate pollution. Big sugar, with the help of the politicians they have paid off, has polluted your water and beaches, killed untold amounts of sea life, posed dire health risks to the populations on both sides of the state, and deeply harmed the tourist-dependant economy of Florida. They should be held accountable.

4. The cycle works like this: There is a particularly heavy stint of rain across Florida. Nutrient rich agricultural runoff from north of Lake Okeechobee flows into the lake. South of the lake, the sprawling sugar fields become overly flooded, so the sugar companies back pump this nutrient rich water into Lake O. This water that comes from the sugar fields is easily recognizable as it is the color of potting soil, with lots of suspended particles, and offers only a few inches of visibility. It is the majority of the pollution in the lake. As this water makes its way out of the lake and into the ideal conditions in the Caloosahatchee River and St Lucie Canal, it begins to feed the naturally occuring blue green algae which explodes into the thick, toxic mats. As this blue green algae completes its life cycle and moves down stream, it begins to break up, giving a chunky blackish look to that potting soil water. At this point the water is even more phosphate rich owing to the addition of the dead mats of blue green algae and any plant and sea life it has killed. As this water leaves the river and hits the delicate coastal grass flats, it blocks out the light and burns the delicate turtle grass, which requires pristine conditions to keep its roots in the soft sand and accomplish photosynthesis. Often this nutrient rich water will cause other types of algae to grow on the turtle grass, hastening its demise. This is why you often see turtle grass mixed in with the dead fish during a red tide. As this water moves into the Gulf, it meets up with the cyanobacteria that is red tide and if the temperature and salinity conditions are right, there is a massive bloom of red tide. As the red tide goes through its life cycle and even more sea life is killed, the water becomes even more nutrient rich. This cycle continues until the nutrients are either exhausted or the conditions become less favorable for the red tide cyanobacteria.

The reason I knew three weeks ago that Sarasota was going to get hit was because I have lived at both the mouth of the Caloosahatchee river and Sarasota and I know the water tends to move north with tides and winds this time of the year, and that it takes about two weeks for the water coming out of the Caloosahatchee to reach Sarasota.

Often, the conditions around Sanibel and Captiva Islands are not favorable for red tide so there isn’t a bloom until the water from the Caloosahatchee reaches the cooler, saltier water around Sarasota and Tampa. This furthers the myth that the red tide in these places is not related to the big sugar runoff.

5. Could this be caused by lawn fertilizers, leaky septic tanks, and runoff from cities and suburbs? Yes, definitely in the Indian River Lagoon. But less so for other locations. Look at a map and a calendar. Red tide events coincide with water releases from Okeechobee. And between Okeechobee and the Gulf, there is not much in the way of cities and suburbs, just farmland and small towns. If it was primarily caused by the general population, massive red tide blooms would be present offshore of every major Florida city at some regular yearly interval. It’s a contributing factor but probably not even on an equal footing with the pollution caused by a handful of a few powerful agricultural companies.

6. What can you do? Document and share what you see, smell, and experience. Wear protective gear and limit exposure, but don’t let these crimes go undocumented. Make sure everyone you talk to understands the basic science and the dangers, and are communicating clearly the full set of facts regarding red tide, blue green algae, and the polluted waters coming from Okeechobee. Sure, sign petitions and call politicians, but the truth is these politicians already know all the details. The political decision makers in this are corrupt and also benefit from the massive sugar subsidies that have flooded Florida since the boycott of Cuban sugar in the early 60s (the era that red tide started becoming a bigger issue). Informing them of a problem they have a huge hand in causing is silly. Asking them nicely to fix it is even less productive. For them to properly address this problem could easily show their complicity. Thier solution is to say we need more scientific study – and then defund the study once the red tide has passed and you’ve forgotten. Confrontation, public shaming, and threats of holding them personally responsible via legal recourse unless something is done immediately to mitigate this is the only path forward. This is not about governing, this is about breaking a cycle of corruption. Remember, personal responsibility is the corrupt politician’s kryptonite, their Achille’s heel. Stay within the law, but make it clear to them that the scrutiny that is about to rain down upon them can only be mitigated with their total commitment to making Big Sugar and other polluters pay for ecological, human, and economic damages they have caused, and the cost of creating safeguards for their industry so that the people, wildlife, and water of Florida can have a healthy future.

Be careful out there. – g

Tourists Seeking Beach Holiday Outside Florida Due To Toxic Algae

Red Tide Watch Manasota Key, Ethanol Hurts Environment Causes Algae Blooms And Hypoxia, Says EPA

Tomorrow?

Seeking Investigative Science Journalist Interested In Blooming Story

By Don Storch

It spans from Estero to the south and Sarasota to the north some 100 miles of red tide mixed with toxic blue/green algae causing locals, tourists, beach-goers and boaters to avoid the southwest coast of Florida.

Although red tide is a natural occurring phenomenon, now with the mixture of another chemical element with the colors of a foo foo explosive cocktail, it is believed that a condition called eutrophication is taking place, which is  being fed by chemicals like nitrates and phosphates which freely flow from land and Lake Okeechobee and are now being released by the Army Corps of Engineers from the Caloosahatchee River into the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

Massive Dead Fish 

Internet research says cultural eutrophication is the process that speeds up natural eutrophication because of human activity such as the clearing of land and building of towns and cities, land runoff is accelerated and more nutrients such as phosphates and nitrate are supplied to lakes and rivers, and then to coastal estuaries and bays.

It is what has taken place in the Everglades with big sugar, cattle and agricultural farms, land development, the run-off from pesticides and the redirection of the estuary system in the Everglades by the Army Corps of Engineers to accommodate these interests.

Green Water Boating 

As a result there are untold thousands of dead fish, crabs, invertebrate marine life, mammals and birds.  The death toll ranges from small marine life to the size of Dolphins, Mantees and Sharks.

Human Protection

On the human side there is coughing, sneezing, wheezing, burning eyes, contact dermatitis, rashes, lesions and severe pulmonary problems, especially for anyone with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or any form of lung diseases.

Dead Mantee

For area businesses it has been devastating. Restaurants, fishing, boating, swimming, and fishing guides especially in Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande Pass where fishing contests go on all summer, are especially hurting.

For such a catastrophic event local media is passive not to hurt tourism, downplaying the event as though it was a passing two week red tide event and not the three month toxic crisis it is, which has not occurred at this level of toxicity in the past 10 years.

Politicians along the affected coastline appear to be well behind the curve of concern, whether it be to recognize the crisis and exploring the facts and what can be done on a long term basis or even showing their concern for humans at risk by providing nurse’s facial masks.

The extent of marine life death is so wide it has drawn the attention of anti-pollution advocate Erin Brockovich and is being covered on her website.

Dead Turtles 

The local website Red Tide Watch Manasota Key is doing an outstanding job with local reports from individuals all along the affected beach areas and is an excellent resource from an anecdotal perspective to a scientific one.

Siesta Key Clean Up

As a member of the National Association of Science Writers, l am emailing  the Executive Director Tinsley Davis, director@nasw.org requesting she alert her membership of this story which has legs for a magazine series and potentially a book. We should be looking for a science writer specializing  in marine biology. I will be forwarding a copy of this article to NASW.

I would recommend members of the Red Tide Watch along the coast line affected do the same if they have more information or an angle not touched upon.

Media interested in contacting me for story leads can do so at, donstorch@gmail.com

# # #  

Letter Sent To National Association of Science Writers

Tinsley Davis
Executive Director NASW

Dear Tinsley:

As a lifetime member of NASW, I would appreciate it if you would alert our membership of an interesting, provocative national story of potential pollution on a grand scale that may be of interest to an investigative marine biologist that involves a combination of red tide and a toxic blue/green algae affecting southwest Florida coastline to a span of 100 miles of beachfront and as much as 20 miles of depth into the Gulf of Mexico, which has not occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in more than 10 years.

All the elements of pollution, politics, coverup and scientific disputes over marine biology science are contained within this story.

I am enclosing a link to an article I posted on this story for further information, https://donstorch.com/manasota-key-musings-2/

I thank you for your consideration.

Don Storch
donstorch@gmail.com

Website: https://donstorch.com/manasota-key-musings-2/