Tag Archives: Wildlife

Hatchling loggerheads keep the peace

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Sixteen hatchling loggerheads were discovered Aug. 9 trapped inside a peace sign sand sculpture on the beach near 52nd Street in Holmes Beach. The sea turtles hatched overnight from a nest on the beach near Martinique South condominium, then disoriented away from the water, toward the sand sculpture. They were later released by AMITW to the Gulf of Mexico. Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW
loggerhead hatchlings are rescued and held in a bucket after being trapped in a sand sculpture Aug. 9 by AmitW volunteers. the 16 tiny sea turtles were released on the beach, where they leave their imprint on the sand and make their own way to the gulf of mexico. islander Photo: chrisAnn Silver esformes

Anna Maria Island is neck and neck with last year’s sea turtle nesting numbers.

Most nesting is finished, but many hatchlings are yet to emerge.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring reported Aug. 9 that 513 nests had been laid on island beaches since nesting season started May 1.

As of Aug. 9, 336 nests remained to hatch.

In 2018, there were 534 loggerhead nests by Oct. 31, breaking the 2017 record of 488.

“We are approaching another record-breaking season,” Fox said. “Now we just have to make sure lighting is compliant so the hatchlings make it to the water.”

Lighting is a concern for turtle-watchers.

Hatchlings, as with nesting female sea turtles, follow their instincts toward the reflection of the moon and stars on the Gulf of Mexico. Light visible from the shoreline can disorient them, leading to predation, dehydration, exhaustion and death.

Beachfront properties are required to have low, shielded exterior lighting that meets Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission standards and indoor lights must be turned off or shielded by curtains or blinds.

Fox said her volunteers — who walk the beach each morning during nesting season, looking for signs of nesting or hatching activity just after sunrise — said some interior lights are unshielded, which can lead to disorientations.

“It’s difficult because the turnover at resorts and rentals is high,” she said. “A lot of people are here having fun and just don’t know they are supposed to close their blinds.”

According to Fox, most of the island is in compliance with sea turtle regulations for lighting, but some property owners — mostly in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach — are still in the process of upgrading to turtle-friendly bulbs and fixtures.

She said volunteers walking the north end of Anna Maria reported nearly 100 nests as of Aug. 7 — nearly twice the number of nests documented there in 2018.

“People have been really good about their lights up there,” adding that turtle watch volunteer Debbie Haynes is also the city’s code compliance officer.

Bill Booher, a turtle watch volunteer who walks a section of the beach in Anna Maria, said he’s spotted 20 nests on his patrol so far this season.

“I’m only having the best season I’ve ever had,” Booher said. “We can speculate as to why we are getting so many nests. But we don’t really know. So all we can do is be thankful and appreciate how lucky we are to have our turtles here.”

Sea turtle nesting slows, hatchlings surge to the Gulf

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Joellah Bouwman, left, 9, and her sister Jonathah, both of Grand Rapids, Michigan, listen Aug. 9 as AMITW volunteer Kathy Doddridge shows them two sea turtle eggs — one hatched and one unhatched — following a nest excavation on the beach near 22nd Street in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
As of Aug. 9, 336 sea turtle nests remain to hatch on Anna Maria Island beaches.
Daniela Garcia, AMITW volunteer, excavates a loggerhead nest on the beach near 22nd Street in Bradenton Beach. Turtle watch volunteers wait 72 hours after a nest hatches to collect data. This nest contained 76 hatched and seven unhatched eggs.

Anna Maria Island is neck and neck with last year’s sea turtle nesting numbers.

Most nesting is finished, but many hatchlings are yet to emerge.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring reported Aug. 9 that 513 nests had been laid on island beaches since nesting season started May 1.

As of Aug. 9, 336 nests remained to hatch.

In 2018, there were 534 loggerhead nests by Oct. 31, breaking the 2017 record of 488.

“We are approaching another record-breaking season,” Fox said. “Now we just have to make sure lighting is compliant so the hatchlings make it to the water.”

Lighting is a concern for turtle-watchers.

Hatchlings, as with nesting female sea turtles, follow their instincts toward the reflection of the moon and stars on the Gulf of Mexico. Light visible from the shoreline can disorient them, leading to predation, dehydration, exhaustion and death.

Beachfront properties are required to have low, shielded exterior lighting that meets Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission standards and indoor lights must be turned off or shielded by curtains or blinds.

Fox said her volunteers — who walk the beach each morning during nesting season, looking for signs of nesting or hatching activity just after sunrise — said some interior lights are unshielded, which can lead to disorientations.

“It’s difficult, because the turnover at resorts and rentals is high,” she said. “A lot of people are here having fun and just don’t know they are supposed to close their blinds.”

According to Fox, most of the island is in compliance with sea turtle regulations for lighting, but some property owners — mostly in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach — are still in the process of upgrading to turtle-friendly bulbs and fixtures.

She said volunteers walking the north end of Anna Maria reported nearly 100 nests as of Aug. 7 — nearly twice the number of nests documented there in 2018.

“People have been really good about their lights up there,” adding that turtle watch volunteer Debbie Haynes is also the city’s code compliance officer.

Bill Booher, a turtle watch volunteer who walks a section of the beach in Anna Maria, said he’s spotted 20 nests on his patrol so far this season.

“I’m only having the best season I’ve ever had,” Booher said. “We can speculate as to why we are getting so many nests. But we don’t really know. So all we can do is be thankful and appreciate how lucky we are to have our turtles here.”

Nests hatch, data collected through rain, high tides

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A group gathers to observe Aug. 1 as AMITW volunteer Lena Whitesell excavates a loggerhead nest on the beach near 74th Street in Holmes Beach. The nest contained 23 hatched eggs, 65 unhatched eggs and four live hatchlings, which were released to the Gulf of Mexico. Islander Photos: AMITW
Three hatchlings — discovered Aug. 1 in a nest during an excavation on the beach near 74th Street in Holmes Beach — make their way to the Gulf of Mexico. Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW
An excavation Aug. 4 of a washed-over nest on the beach in Bradenton Beach produced 87 whole, unhatched eggs. The nest likely had been flooded during recent rains and high tides. Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW

Heavy rain and high tides are part of summer on the Gulf coast.

Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director, said Aug. 1 that some people have concerns over sea turtle nests that appear to be precariously close to the waterline, considering recent storm events.

Fox said about 40 nests were washed over by waves in storms and high tides, and she couldn’t be sure how many nests were flooded or washed out, or the viability of the eggs in the clutch.

In washed-over nests, sea turtle eggs can absorb water and the hatchlings can drown before they emerge.

As of Aug. 3, 96 nests had hatched since July 3, and 411 remain to hatch.

Fox said if a nest doesn’t show signs of hatching after 70 days, AMITW volunteers excavate it and record the data.

Normally, the volunteers excavate a nest 72 hours after it hatches to record the number of eggs hatched, how many failed to hatch, or if live hatchlings remain.

Live hatchlings are released to the Gulf of Mexico.

Based on Manatee County contracts with state and federal agencies for beach renourishment, Turtle Watch shares its data.

Fox said if volunteers excavate a washed-over nest and the eggs look as though they could still hatch, they cover the nest with sand — and wait.

She said a clutch, which contains about 100 eggs, can run up to about 24 inches deep in the sand, making some eggs less vulnerable to flooding.

“You never know what will hatch,” she said. “They were here doing this way before we came along. Mother Nature is full of surprises.”

Resort corrects ‘unfriendly’ sea turtle lighting

Nesting sea turtle numbers on Anna Maria Island continue to rise each year.

The increase in nests is due to increased education and better sea turtle-friendly lighting practices, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director, Suzi Fox.

But lights visible from the shoreline can disorient hatchlings away from their journey to the Gulf, leading to death from dehydration, exhaustion or predation.

“Unfriendly turtle lights” at the Anna Maria Beach Resort, 6306 Gulf Drive, formerly the Blue Water Beach Club, were the apparent cause of disorientations over the July 4 holiday.

Fox wrote the lights were still out of compliance in a July 25 email to Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer.

As of Aug. 4, there were 507 nests on the island, compared with 504 on the same date in 2018.

Sea turtles nest here “because the beaches are dark at night,” Fox said. “If we want them to keep coming back, we have to make sure it stays that way.”

As of Aug. 4, 96 nests had hatched, with 411 remaining on island beaches.

When sea turtles hatch, they are drawn by their instincts to the reflection of the stars on the Gulf of Mexico, and from now through October, hatchlings are emerging from nests in the sand by the thousands.

At a July 31 code violation hearing, attorney Michael Connolly, Holmes Beach special magistrate, granted a continuance of a hearing for the corporate owner, Blue Water Resort AMI LLC, on two possible violations, including one concerning turtle-friendly lighting.

Attorney Aaron Thomas, representing the owner, asked that the case be continued pending compliance.

Thomas said the problem lights were replaced with turtle-friendly bulbs July 29, which was confirmed by Holmes Beach code compliance supervisor JT Thomas.

Connolly continued the case to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Fox said July 31 she is concerned some lights in the stairwell are still visible from the beach and should be changed out for amber-colored Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-approved bulbs. She spoke July 31 with resort representative Allen Pullen, who said the resort is willing to work with Fox to ensure the property is turtle-friendly.

“They said they were willing to go the extra mile,” Fox said.

She said grant money from the Sea Turtle Conservancy helps with the cost of the bulbs.

She also said garage lights at the resort’s neighbor to the north, La Plage, 6424 Gulf Drive, as well as several properties in Bradenton Beach, need amber bulbs.

“We just need to get them set up and get those lights changed out,” Fox said. “We are almost there and the island is looking good — for people and sea turtles.”

Hatchling sea turtles 
take to the Gulf

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AMITW volunteers Karen Anderson, left, and Cindy Richmond excavate a loggerhead sea turtle nest July 17 on the beach near Bayfront Park in Anna Maria. Islander Photos: AMITW
Turtle watch volunteers counts eggs July 17 during a nest excavation in Anna Maria. The nest contained 124 hatched eggs, five unhatched eggs and one live hatchling, which was released to the Gulf of Mexico.
A loggerhead hatchling that remained in a nest on the Bayfront in Anna Maria, despite the other hatchlings making their way to the water, is released July 17.

Sea turtle nesting is slowing and hatchlings are emerging on Anna Maria Island.

Loggerhead hatchlings are emerging daily from nests in the sand on island beaches, then making the crawl to begin their lives in the sea.

As of July 19, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring reported 38 hatched nests with about 2,441 hatchlings making their way to the Gulf of Mexico.

An estimated one in 1,000-10,000 will survive to maturity, according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

A nest contains about 100 eggs, which incubate 45-70 days.

Turtle watch volunteers began walking the beach each morning just after sunrise when nesting season started May 1 to search for tracks left during the night by nesting female sea turtles, and now the focus turns to signs hatchlings have left their nests.

AMITW executive director Suzi Fox said July 17 that recent overnight rains had washed away tracks, making it difficult for volunteers to tell if hatchlings disoriented or safely made it to the water.

However, she said she had not received any reports of hatchlings in the dunes or other upland areas.

“It’s a good sign we haven’t gotten any calls about dead hatchlings,” Fox said. “Even though we have not been able to see the tiny tracks because of overnight rain, it appears they are making it to the water.”

Fox added that higher tides and standing water from rain washed over some nests closer to the waterline, but those could still hatch.

Per Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission instruction, when a nest is hatched, AMITW volunteers wait 72 hours to excavate the nest and determine how many eggs hatched, didn’t hatch, or if live hatchlings remain in the nest.

During an excavation, volunteers dig about 18-24 inches into a hatched nest with gloved hands and count the hatched, unhatched or pipped — partially developed — eggs and also dead or live hatchlings.

“Collecting the data is really what it’s all about for us,” Fox said. “This is where we get to look for trends.”

Fox said a trend that she has noticed from excavations is very few live hatchlings remaining in nests.

“This is really good because it means they are developing well in their nests and getting out to the water,” she said.

Excavations usually take place around sunrise or sunset, when the risk of dehydration or predation is lower for hatchlings.

Fox said turtle watch posts information about upcoming excavations to the group’s Facebook page.

“We really want our residents and visitors alike to come out and see the work we do to protect and document the cycle of life happening with the turtles out here on our beaches,” Fox said. “It really is a beautiful thing.”

Bortie Too nests again

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A screenshot taken July 14 shows Bortie Too, a female loggerhead, returning to shore overnight July 13 to nest on the beach near 66th Street, behind the Mainsail Beach Inn in Holmes Beach. The sea turtle has been wearing a satellite tracking device since June 21, when it was tagged by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring and the Sea Turtle Conservancy as part of the Tour de Turtles marathon for research, after nesting on Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach. To track Bortie Too, visit conserveturtles.org/trackingmap/?id=226

A screenshot taken July 14 shows Bortie Too, a female loggerhead, returning to shore overnight July 13 to nest on the beach near 66th Street, behind the Mainsail Beach Inn in Holmes Beach. The sea turtle has been wearing a satellite tracking device since June 21, when it was tagged by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring and the Sea Turtle Conservancy as part of the Tour de Turtles marathon for research, after nesting on Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach.

To track Bortie Too, visit conserveturtles.org/trackingmap/?id=226

Trees downed at Coquina despite protest

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Piles of 97 Australian pine trees Manatee County felled to make way for a parking lot improvement project at Coquina Beach remain alongside an access road July 11. The tree stumps have yet to be removed. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

The Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency looked for the silver lining in the removal of 103 Australian pine trees from Coquina Beach.

Following Manatee County’s decision to remove more than a tenth of the beach’s 991 Australian pine trees to make way for the first phase of a Coquina parking lot drainage improvement project, CRA members said they hoped the time and budgeting is right to ask the county to join a multimodal transportation partnership with the city.

County contractors removed 97 Australian pine trees from the south parking area and along the Coquina Beach access road July 10. Six other Australian pine trees along the access road were previously removed.

The county plans to replace the Australian pine trees with 83 green buttonwood trees, 10 gumbo limbo trees and 10 shady lady black olive trees in the grass near the playground.

Bradenton Beach commissioners opposed the tree removal, which county officials said became a necessity after the city issued a construction permit for the project.

Building official Steve Gilbert said the city could not revoke the permit and stop work since the project met the city’s land development code.

While city officials failed to stop the tree removals, CRA members were excited with the prospect of getting the county on board with plans to partner on multimodal transportation improvements, namely a jitney trail for shuttling people between the parking at Coquina Beach — the biggest island parking lot — and Bridge Street.

“We can use this controversy to help move this project along,” local restaurateur Ed Chiles, an appointed member of the CRA, said at the July 10 meeting.

He added that he feels strongly against Australian pine trees, which are non-native, but the public’s outcry in opposition to their removal might help convince the county to further improve the multimodal transportation aspects of the area.

“The county wants to make sure the island is happy,” Chiles said.

City attorney Ricinda Perry said the situation may be the city’s best opportunity to realize the jitney trail project, which has been on a backburner for years.

CRA Chair Ralph Cole, a city commissioner, said the trail would lighten parking — which he said is the CRA district’s biggest issue — on Bridge Street.

Chiles motioned to direct Perry and city engineer Lynn Burnett to coordinate with county officials on plans for the project, and city commissioner Jake Spooner, a CRA member, seconded the motion. CRA members voted 6-0 to approve Chiles’ motion.

Commissioner Randy White, a CRA member, was absent with excuse.

Sea turtle season intensifies on Anna Maria Island

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Chairs were placed in the early hours of July 9 to protect an overnight loggerhead nest near 1900 Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach prior to volunteers from AMITW marking the nest. Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW

Sea turtle season is in full swing on Anna Maria Island.

Loggerheads are nesting and hatchlings are emerging by the hundreds from nests on island beaches.

If nesting numbers continue to escalate, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring could observe a new record for sea turtle nests on the island, as it has for the past three years.

As of July 14, AMITW reported 18 hatched nests with 1,025 hatchlings to the Gulf of Mexico, compared with three hatched nests and 88 hatchlings on the same date in 2018.

Also, as of July 14, 442 loggerhead nests were documented on AMI, as compared with 430 in 2018.

The turtles nesting on Anna Maria Island’s shore mostly are loggerheads, a protected species. They nest on the beach through October, usually at night, digging a small pit, about a foot wide and 18-24 inches deep, and leaving behind about 100 eggs in the clutch to the care of Mother Nature before returning to the water.

Suzi Fox, AMITW executive director, said there is a problem with people on the beach at night when sea turtles emerge to nest.

“I know people are excited to see the turtles on the beach at night,” Fox said. “However, if people keep disturbing their nesting attempts, they are going to love these creatures to death.”

She said people need to maintain a distance of at least 100 feet from nesting turtles and should not use their cellphones to take photo or video of sea turtles on the beach, as it could disrupt a nesting attempt, causing the turtle to return to the water without laying eggs.

The morning of July 9, volunteers walking the beach looking for signs of nesting, spotted a circle of chairs surrounding a nest laid the night before, according to Fox.

She said when turtle watch volunteers identified the nest, the man who had placed the chairs said he used them to mark the nest because he wanted to ensure people knew it was there.

“I know he meant well, but what he didn’t realize is that by doing that he destroyed the evidence we use to determine if the turtle nested or returned to the water without laying eggs,” Fox said.

She said she is concerned that resort and rental managers are not providing guests with turtle watch materials at check-in, or talking with them about turtle nesting.

“Visitors need to see the materials that we give to island resorts and rental agencies, but they also should be told what the rules are,” Fox said.

Hatchlings, like nesting female sea turtles, emerge and follow their instincts toward the reflection of the moon and stars on the Gulf of Mexico. Light visible from the shoreline can disorient nesting turtles and hatchlings, leading to predation, dehydration, exhaustion and death.

Beachfront properties need low, shielded exterior lighting with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-compliant bulbs and indoor lights must be either turned off or concealed by curtains or blinds.

The first hatchlings of the season emerged overnight July 3, with about 25 of the turtles disorienting toward the dunes, allegedly due to lighting visible from the beach.

As of July 14, of 18 hatched nests, four have had disorientations.

Fox said property owners by law must fix noncompliant lighting, which should have been addressed before nesting season began May 1.

“Here we are in July and any lighting concerns should have been handled in April,” she said, adding that most of the problems are related to properties that have been out of compliance for years.

However, she also said new construction, including the recently renovated Anna Maria Beach Resort, on the Gulf at 6306 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, formerly the Blue Water Beach Club, was the alleged source of one of the disorientations.

Fox is working with code enforcement in Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach to address the issues.

“For the most part, things are going well, as evidenced by our numbers,” she said. “Now it is up to code enforcement, property owners and people who love our turtles to get us in tiptop shape.”

Algae blooms plague waterways, inch toward AMI

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Boaters on Daddy’s Time Out head out June 27 from One Particular Harbour Marina on Perico Island, where brown gumbo algae is visible in the water. The algae also produced a foul odor at the marina. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
The algae Lyngbya wollei — known as brown “gumbo” — forms a carpet on the surface of the water in Robinson Preserve June 27. Islander Photo: Courtesy Manatee County
A floating turbidity barrier is stationed where the waters of Robinson Preserve lead out toTampa Bay, preventing further Lyngbya algae from the county park. The barrier was placed June 27. Islander Photo: Courtesy Manatee County

The mats of Lyngbya wollei, also known as brown “gumbo” algae, were so thick in the waters in Robinson Preserve June 27 that wading birds stood on them.

That’s the report Michael Elswick, manager of the natural resources division of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, forwarded his boss, Charlie Hunsicker.

Mats as thick as 12 inches and as large as two-tenths of an acre clogged the waterways at the preserve, preventing kayakers from passing through and “stopping a jon boat cold,” Elswick wrote in the email.

Lyngbya “gumbo” algae is a type of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae common in the spring-summer months around Anna Maria Island. It forms thick mats that resemble clumps of grass and sewage at the water surface, mostly in backwaters and bays.

Land management rangers and supervisors from the county natural resources department moved the brown algae, dragging large clumps to the mouth of the Manatee River and into its current.

“They corralled the algae, moved it into the tidal channel and constructed a floating turbidity barrier to keep it from coming back in,” Hunsicker told The Islander June 27.

The preserve clearing operation took about four hours.

Elswick wrote in his email to Hunsicker that people were still enjoying the preserve, despite the odor associated with brown algae, which lingered in the mangrove roots.

He also stated a caution: “I would speculate the decomposition of large volumes of algae outside Robinson waterways may act to lower dissolved oxygen further. We’re bracing for a fish kill and will act quickly to remove those as necessary.”

Some dead fish were reported June 22-24, when blue-green algae appeared in the Manatee and Braden rivers.

Blue-green troubles in local waters

Ryan McClash was standing on his dock June 23 in the Riverdale subdivision of Bradenton, talking with Suncoast Waterkeeper’s Andy Mele of Bradenton.

Blue-green algae appeared in his canal in the 4200 block of Second Avenue Northeast a week earlier. By June 23, the water was bright green.

McClash told Mele the river looked like it was dyed green.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was taking water samples from the Manatee River to determine the types of algae present, as well as toxicities.

Tests June 18 and June 20 confirmed the presence of a cyanobacteria, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, in the river, including the canal in McClash’s neighborhood. But no toxins were detected. The same algae were found at all but one of the tested river locations.

A sample taken June 19 near Ellenton was dominated by Cuspidothrix.sp, a freshwater algae that can produce toxins — but none were found in the DEP sampling.

The latest DEP samples were pulled June 27, as reports persisted and another algae, the brown“gumbo,” was clogging up the waters near the mouth of the river, as well as in the backwater, bays and sounds.

Boaters using the marina at One Particular Harbour June 26 found heavy mats of “gumbo” algae, but it had diminished the following day.

Dee Ann Miller, of the DEP press office, said the agency would continue to respond to alerts about algae and that persistent blooms would be monitored and retested.

Boat captains, scientists weigh in

“I’ve been here my whole life. I’ve never seen this,” Capt. Scott Moore said of the bright-green hue in the Manatee River, where he often leads charter fishing trips.

“It’s up the river from the Green Bridge on. Down at the mouth, no,” he said.

Moore blamed the blooms on fertilizer and nutrient runoff, as well as over-development and under-management of water issues.

“We’ve got to pass some laws. All this new development, all these septic tanks, all this fertilizing. We have to get control of this,” he said.

Cynthia Heil, director of the new Red Tide Institute at Mote Marine Laboratory, told The Islander June 27 that alga, especially freshwater types, “like the heat, love the sun and like the nutrients.”

With less rain than usual and higher than normal summer temps, conditions are ripe for blooms.

“They like a lot of sunlight and runoff. Lyngbya likes iron. Some are toxic, others not,” she said.

Meanwhile, Hunsicker is holding his breath.

“What we are seeing is a magnificent joining of sunlight, temperatures and nutrients, and some of the hottest days on record conspiring together to make a big algae bloom,” he said.

“The Saharan dust we are getting in our atmosphere has iron. All the dead fish from last year’s event went to the bottom and are still decaying. They didn’t just disappear. Mother Nature is responding,” he added.

“On the other hand, it’s not red tide. Yet.”

About algae

• Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a species of cyanobacteria found in brackish and fresh waters around the world. It is known to produce endotoxins, the toxic chemicals released as cells die. However, not all forms of this algae are toxic.
• Cuspidothrix.sp is a species of cyanobacteria similar to A. flos-aquae. It grows in fresh and brackish waters, but is not as common or widespread and more prone to hot climates.
• Lyngba wollei is a filamentous cyanobacterium that forms thick mats on the water’s surface. It is common throughout North America, but large blooms can degrade water quality, cause skin irritation and impair natural habitats.
• Karenia brevis is the scientific name for red tide. In high concentrations, it emits toxins that can cause respiratory issues in humans and marine mammals, and can kill fish, shellfish, birds and mammals.