A leading scientist says researchers in Florida are developing a way to combat the alga which is known to cause deadly "red tide". Michael Crosby directs the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, a leading research organization
A 10-month-old red tide kills marine life along Florida's southwestern coast. A large number of dead fish has accumulated on the beaches from Naples to Tampa. Red tide can also cause problems for humans. Contact with the algae can lead to breathing difficulties, burning eyes and skin pain.
On Monday, Governor Rick Scott ordered emergency measures to deal with the crisis. Crosby said he welcomes the move, which frees up more money and resources to solve the problem.
Scientists test solutions
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suspects that the Red Flood caused the deaths and strandings of hundreds of sea turtles this year. The agency also blames it for at least some of the 68 deaths of manatees. Other killed marine mammals include harbor porpoises.
The body of a nearly eight-meter-long whale shark also flushed on Sanibel Island, Florida late last month. According to Crosby, scientists are currently testing a process in which red algae-filled lake is pumped through a ozone treatment system. Then the purified water would be pumped back into the ocean or waterway.
Crosby said the experiments were done in huge 25,000-gallon tanks. He said that everyone had succeeded in removing the poisonous algae. Crosby said that the water chemistry normalized within 24 hours.
Scientists are also investigating the use of seagrass parasitic algae and other organisms against the Red Flood.
A "Bad Blossom"
Red Tides occur almost every year in Florida. They start in the Gulf of Mexico, where microscopic algae cells called Karenia brevis feed on nutrients from the deep sea. Ocean currents carry algae near the coast, usually in autumn.
The current flowering in the Florida's Gulf Coast is the worst in over ten years. It started last October and has spread over more than 80 kilometers of coastline.
"It's a bad flowering," said Richard Stumpf, a scientist studying rookery for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Stump The strong northern winds, which usually end the red tides, did not form last winter. He said it is not clear why. And he said scientists are not sure if the winds will not re-form.
Scientist Michael Crosby said the red tide occurred during the Reproduction season for Snook. The fish are important to the environment and the economy in Florida. Part of the governor's emergency money will be used to investigate the effects of the red tide on this fish.
I'm Phil Dierking
Reuters reported on this story. Phil Dierking adapted it for learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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words in this story
algen – n. simple plants that have no leaves or stems and that grow in or near water
ozone – n. a form of oxygen that is found in a layer high in the earth's atmosphere
parasite – n. an animal or a plant in or on another animal or a plant that lives and receives food or shelter from it
Kelp – n. a species of plant that grows in the sea
causes (something like a boat or a marine animal) to land