The toxic red tide that’s decimating Florida’s marine life

A deepening algae bloom seen at a canal behind houses on the south side of Calooshatchee River in the River Oaks on June 27

Social media has been inundated with images of dead animals that failed to escape the toxic bloom washing up on the Gulf of Mexico beaches across Florida.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, almost 300 sea turtles have died since a red tide algae bloom started late previous year between Sarasota and Collier counties.

Respiratory irritation and murky clumps of red drift algae have been reported from Collier to Sarasota counties on Florida's west coast, which is usually known for its stunning beaches.

Red tide blooms produce toxic chemicals that can affect both marine organisms and humans.

WINK Meteorologist Matt Devitt posted on Facebook about some of the devastation. However, there has yet to be a firm link established between nutrient pollution and the severity of red tide, according to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

The news agency said about 160.9 kilometres of coastline had been affected so far.

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"Many people will tell you that this is the worst they have ever seen", Jacylin Bevis, a reporter with the NBC affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida, told NBC News.

A Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Marine Deputy found a manatee paralyzed, due to red tide.

Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working to release some of the toxic water from the lake.

Experts suggest an excess amount of nutrients, coming from inland Florida and dumping into the Gulf of Mexico from rivers, could be making this year's bloom more persistent.

"As the person dealing with all these hundreds of dying animals, I'm upset."

"It's certainly disgusting", said Amy Benton, who walked along the shoreline early Thursday with a scarf over her nose and mouth as protection.

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