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Months-long Red Tide Harms Manatees, Sea Turtles along Gulf Coast

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Photo: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Center
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A manatee, removed from Lee County waters by FWC for reasons unrelated to red tide, in August 2016.

A strong red tide has persisted along the Gulf Coast since September. As of Friday, the event is still considered medium to high intensity in the waters from Manatee County to Lee County. The bloom of the toxic algae has been linked to massive fish kills in the last two months, sickened a pair of sea turtles, and even poisoned two manatees in one week

It's not the first time red tide has sickened or killed manatees, but as the months-long bloom lasts deeper into December, red-tide watchers and wildlife biologists are wary of more impacts.

Monday at 1 p.m., Gulf Coast Live features Dr. Vince Lovko, staff scientist at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, talking about Florida's red tide and why this latest bloom is so potent. We'll also speak with biologist and wildlife veterinarian Dr. Heather Barron, hospital director for the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, to discuss the impacts on wildlife.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
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