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Red tide is staying away from coastal Levy and Dixie counties

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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Millions of pounds of marine life have fallen victim to red tide in the greater Tampa area as high concentrations of the algae bloom remain in parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Christopher Reynolds, a commercial fisherman, has been in Cedar Key since 1997.

He says those who make their livelihood on the island have been fortunate to not have experienced much red tide.

Reynolds says that they’ve had, “I guess one event in what’s that 18 years that’s.. not really close to none but it certainly could be much worse. And I’m so glad we don’t have the problems they do down south. I’ve seen the red tide devastate this industry in Pine Island and Port Charlotte.”

While red tide has occurred on the Nature Coast before, even as recently as 2014-2015, its impact was primarily contained offshore.

Micheal Allen, UF Fisheries Professor and Director of the Nature Coast Biological Station, told me why red tide happens less often in-shore on this part of the coast.

He says that “One of the reasons is that we have the Suwannee River which discharges a good amount of freshwater. Red tide’s not a fan of freshwater. Another is that we’re kind of an open estuary we’re open on the Gulf so there’s a lot of flushing here it’s not like a contained embayment like Sarasota Bay or the St. Petersburg system. So when red tide does get in here it has a potential to be diluted and washout rather than stay in a confined area and propogate.”

Allen also said that while pollutants can play a factor in algae blooms, they are not the sole cause of red tide, which has been recorded as far back as the 1700′s by Spanish explorers.

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