The Red Tide and the Restoration of the Everglades

red tideBy now, you’ve probably seen footage or read stories about the algae problems in the Caloosahatchee River and the red tide. This red tide has been lingering off the shore since November. Images of dead fish and sea turtles are heartbreaking.

One main key to fixing this problem lies in the restoration of the Everglades. Once the Everglades returns to its natural flow of water, the algae problem should subside.

Southern Florida had a very wet May, so algae blooms filled Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River in June. The Caloosahatchee looks like a blue-green slimy water because of all the algae floating within it. The algae thrives in hot, stagnant water.

Nutrients from the lake have gone into the river, which has fed the algae bloom. The bloom starts at the lake and extends to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee.  When the algae gets large, it gathers at the surface creating a toxic, smelly, unattractive slime in the water.

These algae produce a toxin. If you encounter the algae (or are close to it) you can feel the effects such as headache, sore throat, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, and pneumonia. If you’re exposed to the algae for long periods, you are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS.

The algae is making people sick, killing sea life, hurting the fishing industry, and hurting the Florida tourism industry as people cannot go out in boats, paddleboards, kayaks, or swim because of the toxic algae lurking in the lake, river, and Gulf waters.

Other findings show there needs to be a better regulation of agricultural runoff from sugar cane and other farms in south Florida, but the changed waterways are a big part of why there is an algae and red tide problem each year.

The hope is with more regulations and restoration the algae will not grow in such big numbers and cause health problems and sea life deaths.

Explore the Everglades by Airboat

It’s unfortunate and a travesty that the southwest coast is experience the red tide, but the Everglades is clean and OK for people to explore, especially by airboat. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.