THE HILL: Florida’s lost summers: Toxic algae ‘emergency’ decades in the making

The Hill: Written by Jaclyn Lopez. September 3, 2018.

A nauseating cocktail of toxic algae that is suffocating significant stretches of Florida’s coast has put it in a state of emergency.

We’ve turned the heart of the Everglades — Lake Okeechobee — into a toilet, causing its veins to course neon green with deadly poison that’s then flushed onto our coasts. That toxic blue-green algae from Lake Okeechobee, combined with the red tide — also a toxic algae — from the Gulf of Mexico, create a murky deathscape that kills almost everything in its wake. Now there’s even a brown algae that’s feeding on the carrionfrom the other two algae.

The debate about the role natural forces play, i.e. “naturally occurring” red tide, in the alarming escalation of Florida’s environmental crisis is a dangerous red herring that distracts from the systemic, ongoing failures that have led to these chronic algae blooms.

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LOCAL 10: Fort Lauderdale investigating algae blooms in city canals

Local 10: Written by Tim Swift. September 2, 2018.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Residents along a canal in Fort Lauderdale have reported seeing bright green algae blooms this weekend, prompting city officials to investigate.

Chaz Adams, a spokesman for the city of Fort Lauderdale, said officials have notified the Florida Department of Environmental Protection about the issue.

"They are the experts in this area and will determine if the algal bloom presents a risk to human health," Adams said.

Joe Mazella, who lives in the Las Olas Isles neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, noticed the sludge fouling the water near his house and took photos and videos.

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NY TIMES: The Deadly Toll of the Red Tide

NY TIMES: Written by Melissa Gomez. August 31, 2018.

In southwestern Florida, the harmful algal bloom has lasted about 10 months and continues to kill large amounts of marine life.

They come in staggering, looking depressed. Sometimes they have ulcers on their eyes or in their stomachs.

Dr. Heather Barron’s patients range in size from sanderlings, tiny birds that can weigh as little as three and a half ounces, to loggerhead turtles that weigh hundreds of pounds. And the unusually long red tide hitting Sanibel Island in Florida has kept them coming in.

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife has seen a 25 percent increase in patients compared with this time last year, said Dr. Barron, the medical and research director. The clinic’s staff has been stretched thin, working 80-hour weeks to treat the large number of animals left sick by the red tide.

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TAMPA BAY TIMES: Big Sugar wins again

Tampa Bay Times: Written by Alex Leary. May 18, 2018.

UPDATE: The entire farm bill was defeated on Friday, a major blow for the GOP leadership.

WASHINGTON – Big Sugar did it again, defeating a move to curb the government subsidies the industry receives and protection from foreign competition.

On Thursday, the House defeated an amendment to the farm bill that was offered by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.,  a critic of the program.

In a sign of how powerful the industry is in Florida, all but three of the state's representatives voted against the measure: Ron DeSantis, Brian Mast and Francis Rooney, all Republicans.

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TC PALM: Highly toxic blue-green algae at dam where Lake O waters enter St. Lucie River

TC Palm: Written by Tyler Treadway. August 29, 2018.

Highly toxic blue-green algae — nearly 50 times the level considered hazardous — has been reported at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, where Lake Okeechobee enters the St. Lucie River.

A bloom immediately upstream of the dam sampled Aug. 23 contained the toxin microcystin at a level of 495.06 parts per billion, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported late Tuesday.

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MIAMI HERALD: Mounting dolphin deaths in Florida’s red tide zone trigger federal investigation

Miami Herald: Written by Jenny Staletovich. August 31, 2018.

Federal wildlife officials have opened an investigation into dolphin deaths off Southwest Florida, where a red tide is suspected of killing 41 dolphins in August alone amid widespread fish kills across five counties.

In a briefing Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it was declaring the deaths an “unusual mortality event,” allowing the agency to corral resources to research the ongoing deaths linked to the algae bloom. Since the 1990s, the agency has declared four similar red tide dolphin die-offs in the Gulf. Three occurred in the Panhandle and one, during a 17-month long tide that ended in 2006, covered the entire west coast.

“As we go through this event, if it’s truly red tide, you may see a shift in the type and what the strandings look like,” said veterinarian Teri Rowles, coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program.

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WASHINGTON POST: Florida’s unusually long red tide is killing wildlife, tourism and businesses

Washington Post: Written by Darryl Fears and Lori Rozsa. August 28, 2018.

 SIESTA KEY, Fla. — Even as she sat under the brilliant Florida sun, her toes covered in sugar-white sand, Alex McShane wasn’t exactly enjoying her summer vacation. Florida’s worst red tide in more than a decade had turned the aqua-blue surf to a rusty dull brown.

And then there were the lifeguards. They were wearing gas masks.

With no mask of her own, McShane, 24, wore a frown. Her eyes itched, she coughed, and the stench was giving her a headache — all telltale symptoms of the monster algal bloom spanning the southern Gulf Coast. It is killing untold numbers of marine animals from Bradenton to Naples, where rotting fish still lay scattered on a beach behind Gov. Rick Scott’s seaside mansion, even after a cleanup.

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CNN: Green slime oozes into Florida's primary elections

CNN: Written by Jennifer Gray. August 28, 2018.

Cape Coral, Florida (CNN) Usually, politics and slime go hand-in-hand. "Sliming" a political opponent is well-worn tradition, after all.

But in this midterm election season in South Florida, it's the slime itself that's driving people to the polls.

Green slime oozing from Lake Okeechobee is polluting Florida's pristine waterways that flow east and west from the lake and eventually south into the bays and oceans.

This disaster has caused a dramatic decline in the economy.

It's the topic of conversation around here. Campaigns are going heavy on the environment. Television ads are focused on the algae and billboards now line the roads.

Some voters say they've had enough and they want their voices heard in a big way.

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ABC NEWS: How the environment has become a key factor in Florida's elections

ABC News: Written by Lissette Rodriguez. August 26, 2018.

 It was less than a month ago, in early August, that Southwest Florida fishing guide Nick Fischer told Good Morning America that a putrid combination of blue-green algae and a red tide in the region had him feeling anxious about the impacts the ecological disaster would have on his business.

“It’s economically affecting all of us, you can’t fish here and they [tourists] just want to get their families out of here and leave the area,” Fischer said. “This is what I do every day for a living, that’s how I, we provide for our families and I don’t know what to do.”

For Fischer, and a state that touts tourism as being the number one economic industry -- making up to 23 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue, supporting more than 1.4 million jobs and creating a local value up to $45 billion -- losing those vital customers has Floridians wondering if it’s time to approach environmental policy differently.

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ORLANDO SENTINEL: Green algae, red tide muck up Florida race for governor

Orlando Sentinel: Written by Gray Rohrer. August 24, 2018.

 TALLAHASSEE — Slime has taken on a whole new meaning for Florida politicians seeking votes ahead of Tuesday’s primary. A green ooze of algae has taken over large swaths of waterways in southwest Florida and the Treasure Coast, alarming residents and business owners fretting about the impact to tourism and quality of life.

The algae, toxic to marine life and an irritant to ears, eyes and skin of humans, has become political fodder in the heat of the primary season, as candidates in both parties seek to separate themselves from their opponents.

In addition to the blooms inland, communities on the Gulf Coast have also had to deal with red tide, a different algae toxin that poisons marine life. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in seven counties to help combat the red tide. The declaration followed a similar one in July for communities affected by the green algae outbreak.

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