NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons
Red tide, a toxic algae bloom, now threatens aquatic life off Florida’s Gulf Coast.
USEPA Photo by Eric Vance
This week, our top Earth snapshots include an amazing Alaskan flyover, the Space Station's peaceful view of Russia and Eastern Europe -- and a red tide that's causing havoc in Florida. The EPA maintains these controlled growth chambers (above) in Corvallis, Ore. They enable researchers to study the effects of air pollution, heavy metals and toxic substances on plant life.PHOTOS: Massive Mayfly Invasion Marauds Midwest
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USDA photo by David Kosling
California is suffering through a severe drought. This image, taken back in February, shows a dried-up riverbed along Highway 99 near Bakersfield.NEWS: Southwest Groundwater Disappearing at 'Shocking' Rate
Kim Parsons/NOAA Fisheries
A group of killer whales, also known as orcas, are seen swimming here in a tight pattern. NOAA scientists recently published a study of killer whale genetics, in which they reported that the creatures form distinct sub-populations that don't have much cross-breeding.VIDEO: Whales Get Sunburned, Too
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Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Staff; Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
A sergeant major fish and an angelfish swim in a reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. These fragile underwater habitats are threatened by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the water, due to climate change.NEWS: When Fish Go Deeper They Glow Brighter
A red tide off the coast of Florida has killed thousands of fish along with sea turtles and crabs,reports the AP
. The algal bloom is caused by a marine organism,
which is naturally occuring buttoxic to humans and wildlife
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After Toledo had to temporarily ban residents from using tap water last weekend because of a toxic algae bloom on Lake Erie, you probably figured that we’d filled the quota of bad algae-related news for the summer. No such luck, unfortunately. Off the Gulf Coast of Florida, the biggest red tide bloom seen in Florida in nearly a decade already has killed thousands of fish.
The bloom, which contains the microorganism Karenia brevis, may pose a public health threat to Floridians if it washes ashore, which is expected to happen in the next two weeks, according to Reuters.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission says that the tide is approximately 80 miles long and up to 50 miles wide, and currently is between 40 and 90 miles offshore. The state already has received reports from Floridians of thousands of dead and dying creatures being found, ranging from octopus to bull sharks.
Red tide, which happens in other coastal areas as well, is a phenomenon that’s been occurring for centuries. It happens when a naturally occurring algae bloom goes out of control, producing toxins deadly to fish and other marine life.
The odorless chemicals given off by the algae, which stains the water red, also can cause minor respiratory distress in people, such as coughing and wheezing. It’s a greater risk to animals, and not just fish.
Last year, a red tide bloom that was smaller, but closer to shore than the current one is now, killed 276 endangered Florida manatees, according to NBC News. The algae contaminates the sea grasses that the aquatic mammals eat, disrupting their nervous systems and ultimately causing them to drown.