SARASOTA- In less than two months, Suncoast beaches transformed from delightful to disgusting. Thanks to Heli Aviation, SNN’s Jennifer Kveglis saw the red tide bloom from a different angle.
What started in October of 2017, Mote Marine Staff Scientist, Dr. Vince Lovko said is now the biggest red tide bloom since 2004.
“It is a natural phenomena. This organism is natural as far as we can tell from historical records. Even the occurrence of blooms is natural, now whether blooms we’re seeing this year extending into 10 months is a normal thing or recent, it’s very difficult to say,” he said.
1000 feet high, it may be hard for the naked eye to spot thousands of deceased marine organisms. But the transition from a crystal clear to dark and dirty shoreline is unmissable.
Dr. Loveko said red tide now covers nearly 100 miles of shoreline.
“A week or so ago, Sarasota County Department of Health counts last week, which would have been Monday of last week, there was I think, zero detection up here on Longboat (Key) and now you can clearly see that red tide has made it up this way,” he said.
Moving north, he said what’s fueling the bloom is unknown.
“…parasites or viruses that are natural, that are part of the natural cycle of life and death and also it can be a change in conditions. It could be temperature related, or the abatement of nutrients, the using up of nutrients for Karenia Brevis, we don’t know yet,” he said.
Predicting what’s next on its agenda is just as cloudy as the water.
“Quite frankly we don’t know yet. There’s possibilities, some of which we are trying to explore, but we don’t have that answer,” he said.
Until that answer is found, researchers at Mote Marine won’t stop their investigation.