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Red tide returns along Forgotten Coast

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 12:23 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2021 at 7:01 PM EDT
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ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. (WCTV) - The algal bloom known as red tide is again causing problems for sea life along the Franklin County coast.

The Gulf Specimen Marine Lab says staff are treating a loggerhead turtle discovered washed ashore on St. George Island, suffering neurological problems believed to be caused by the red tide algae, karenia brevis. The adult turtle, which appears otherwise healthy, cannot move its flippers and can only lift its head, according to Marine Lab staff.

The Marine Lab says its also gotten reports of at least five dead turtles washing ashore on St. George this week, along with several dead rays and a dead dolphin.

A patchy bloom of red tide persists along Florida’s Gulf coast, according to the latest update from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. FWC says cells were detected in 173 samples over the past week.

Bloom concentrations, meaning more than 100.000 cells per liter, were found in 51 samples, including one in Franklin County.

Other positive samples in the northern gulf were found off Bay, Gulf, and Dixie counties.

The first reports of red tide off the Forgotten Coast came about three weeks ago. Residents reported a noxious smell and hundreds of dead fish along the beach at St. George Island.

According to the Florida Department of Health, red tide can cause respiratory, skin, eye, or throat irritation in humans.

The health department said such algae blooms can last anywhere from days to months, depending on a number of conditions including wind and ocean currents.

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