Venice residents pack meeting to learn about red tide

The epic red tide outbreak is killing millions of fish and keeping tourists from southwest Florida beaches. Monday, Venice City Council’s emergency meeting on the crisis was packed.

Venice has been one of the hardest hit areas by the ongoing red tide bloom. Citizens came to express their concern and learn from Mote Marine scientists about what’s going on, and how they can help.

Mote’s experts started with a fact-versus-fiction discussion about red tide. They say the bloom is a completely different situation from the green-blue algae that is seen in more southern parts of the state.

The green-blue algae is directly linked to Lake Okeechobee, but they say this outbreak of red tide is not.

However, they noted, it appears to be made worse by our own actions.

“The bottom line is that red tide is indeed a naturally-occurring phenomenon that existed long before Europeans came to Florida. They type of intensity that we are experiencing now is not normal, but it’s not unprecedented,” Mote's president, Dr. Michael Crosby, explained.  “It’s also clear that excess land-based nutrients flowing into our estuaries and coastal waters, in stormmwater runoff through rivers and creeks, exacerbates the growth of harmful algal blooms.

"These are independent, objective, science-based facts.  Not emotional or political talking points."

Red tide is an algae bloom that depletes oxygen in the water, killing marine life from fish to manatees to turtles.  The organism can also cause respiratory problems and eye irritation in humans.  

MORE: Red tide FAQ: What is it, and where does it come from?

This bloom has been around now for 10 months. In Venice, it’s resulted in dead fish, dolphins, turtles, and even manatees. Mote says they are working as best as they can to find out more about red tide and how to lessen some of its effects. But more research and support is needed.

Mote says they are trying to work to get funds to create harmful algae bloom research center, but of course it will take time and money.