ENGLEWOOD — Three special scientific seminar talks are scheduled to better educate the public about red tide and other toxic algae.
“The Science of Harmful Algal Blooms” will be discussed Nov. 15 at the Ringling College of Art & Design Academic Center Auditorium, sponsored by the University of Florida’s Extension Service in Sarasota County.
Mote Marine Laboratory and the Barrier Island Parks Society are sponsoring a talk and panel discussion Nov. 16 in Boca Grande with researchers from Mote, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, University of South Florida and Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.
Greater Charlotte Harbor Group of the Sierra Club invited Larry Brand, a University of Miami marine biology professor who is researching toxic algae, to its next general meeting Nov. 20 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church, Port Charlotte. Brand will speak on “Blooms of red tide and blue-green algae in South Florida: Environmental Causes and Human Health Consequences.”
The public is welcome.
Many may feel they already know more than they ever wanted about the toxic algae.
Englewood and other coastal communities throughout Southwest Florida have endured up close and personal the red tide algae. The region is preparing to mark a one year anniversary when state and other researchers first detected red tide cells building up to toxic levels in the Gulf of Mexico.
When the blooms reach 100,000 or higher in a liter of water, red tide can cause fish kills and result in respiratory irritations in humans. A million or more cells per liter can stain the water a reddish brown. Due to the intensity of recent blooms, sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and other sea mammals have succumbed to the toxins and washed up along shorelines.
Southwest Florida isn’t alone. Red tide blooms have since appeared this year along the Gulf coastlines of Florida’s Panhandle and South Florida counties along the Atlantic. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posts updates of red tide blooms on myfwc.com.
Mark Timchula would love to post on his daily morning Facebook videos how the public Englewood Beach on Manasota Key is free and clear of red tide.
But he can’t.
“Today, we’re going to be closed, but hopefully it will clear up by the weekend,” Timchula said on his video posted Friday morning on Facebook. The video shows a hand-crafted sign, “Beach Guy Closed Due to Red Tide.”
Known as the Beach Guy who rents beach chairs and umbrellas on Englewood Beach, Timchula’s livelihood depends upon pristine conditions. Red tide kept him off the beach four months. He was only able to return three weeks ago.
Timchula isn’t alone.
Sarasota and Charlotte tourism bureaus surveys this summer determined a significant blow, more than $500,000, to restaurants, short-term rentals and other businesses dependent upon tourism.
The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County determined during a red tide event, the costs of hospital visits for respiratory illness alone increased in Sarasota County from $500,000 to $4 million. An estimated $22 million is lost annually due to red tide in wages and medical expenses.