ST. PETERSBURG (FNN) – Governor Ron DeSantis provided an update on the red tide phenomenon on the state’s coasts and new ways to monitor and prevent it, during a round table with Florida officials at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
The roundtable came due to a new blooming of red tide in Pinellas County for the past few days, forcing the partial shutdown of the Dunedin Causeway Beach while officials rush to clean up the bloom.
DeSantis noted that since he took office there has been $4.8 million every year destined for the prevention of red tide, a phenomenon caused by the explosive blooming of sea algae (Karenia brevis) that discolors coastal waters and may deplete the water of oxygen and may even release toxins in the water harmful to wildlife and humans.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission executive director Eric Sutton said there is constant communication with Pinellas County officials and noted that there is an interactive map that shows the presence of the red tide on the coasts on a weekly basis.
Florida residents can also call 866-300-9399 for the latest red tide reports. Those from out of Florida can call 727-502-4952.
Dr. Michael Crosby, CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory, explained that communication is particularly important because “we can predict a hurricane more easily than a red tide, because a hurricane is mostly physical, while a red tide is made of chemical and nutritional factors.”
Crosby added that along with the FWC map they are working on a widget for clam farmers that can indicate what course of action they can take during red tide phenomena.
DeSantis noted that a red tide does not mean the complete shutting down of businesses along the coast thanks to these tools, which would allow visitors to the area to determine their plans and for businesses to remain open.
“People are doing very, very well. I’ll go out and people say to me thank you for keeping us open, and some say that in 2021 they’re doing better than ever,” he added. “There are very few places in the country as this Tampa bay region. I would absolutely anticipate a very strong Fourth of July weekend. We’re a service-based economy here in Florida. Had we done California-type policies we’d have the highest unemployment in the country. These restaurants are now needing to hire more people.”
Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org