Dead shark concerns scientists monitoring red tide

Red tide continues to devastate tourism and wildlife on Florida’s gulf coast.

Dead fish, dolphins, and manatees have washed ashore, but Friday scientists were called to gather a dead shark in Bradenton.

They say the shark’s death is a huge indicator of just how bad this bloom really is.

Sarah Vanderbent found the shark in the canal behind her home.

“I pulled it in a little closer and saw that it was not even a small shark. It was a pretty decent size,” she recalled.

Venderbent said she always wanted to see a shark in the canal behind her house in Bradenton, but not like this.

“[I was] definitely sad to see that. If I was going to see one, it would be nice, but not in that way,” she said.

LINK: Fishermen turning to red tide cleanup for lost income

Red tide is killing tourism and wildlife - now including sharks - and that's rare.

Dr. Bob Hueter says sharks are very mobile creatures and usually are able to swim away from toxic red tide.

He says sharks of several species have died in the red tide this year.

“Large sharks are able to allude the red tide. This one is just so concentrated and widespread that it is taking out some of the large sharks in a way that we have not seen before,” Dr. Hueter explained.

Scientists have worked for years to build up what was a dying shark population. This concerns them.

Dr. Hueter says the dead sharks he has seen are in isolated areas, which explains the bull shark in Vanderbent's canal.

“If this thing continues we could have a failure in whole classes of shark recruitment,” he said.

The Sahara Desert could also share some blame for this year’s intense outbreak of red tide. Dust storms in the Sahara Desert have been particularly bad this year, causing problems around the globe.

It's to blame for this haze hanging in the air in Houston last month and caused orange snow in Russia.

"Among the many nutrients plankton need is iron,” Mote Marine Laboratory Scientist Dr. Vincent Lovko explained. “One of the ways thought to get iron into the Gulf of Mexico is Sahara dust deposition.”

So is iron from Sahara dust fueling red tide?

"It's probably a perfect storm kind of thing. There's not one smoking gun or one thing," Dr. Lovko said.