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Green Flash

  • Red tide is everywhere.From Tampa Bay south to Ten Thousand Islands, local groups and state agencies that test for and track red tide are warning that the harmful algae bloom that kills fish and sickens dogs, and whose acrid air chases people off the beach, is here.And there. And there. And there.Red tide was detected at every beach in Sarasota County soon after Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers in late September. Earlier this month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, in nearly 100 samples throughout Southwest Florida.Florida Department of Health officials in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties are issuing health alerts daily warning of the real and present danger to human and animals.The red tide is so prevalent, so pungent, and so potentially poisonous that the authors of the health advisories ignored the long-established practice of softening the language to avoid scaring away tourists.
  • Stunning pictures of Sarasota’s Marie Selby Botanical Gardens abound in the winner’s categories of the esteemed orchid and bromeliad research and cultivation center’s summer photography contest.The Gardens received nearly 300 submissions to the 42nd Annual Virtual Juried Photographic Exhibition. The photos had to be taken within the past two years at either Selby’s main campus on the bayfront in downtown Sarasota, or at the Historic Spanish Point campus in Osprey.
  • A rare orchid, which uses the skills of a magician to appear from nowhere and seemingly float in the air next to its host tree, is in bloom at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The “ghost orchid” is the largest one ever discovered, and its blossoms draw international attention among the uber-enthusiastic world of orchid lovers.
  • Thousands of baby mangrove trees planted around Pine Island last year to replace ones previously damaged or destroyed by hurricanes have taken root and grown up to a foot. Nearly all of the mangrove propagules that were planted on Benedict Key in Pine Island Sound in 2021 are bearing green leaves, which provide shade for the tiny creatures in the water below and food for things like the aptly-named mangrove tree crab in branches above.
  • The largest Burmese python ever discovered in Florida was captured from the Everglades and brought to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida for research. The female python, weighing in at 215 pounds and 18 feet long, had 122 eggs inside of her, which is the largest egg count ever recorded for a python.
  • Florida House Institute and Sarasota Urban ReForesters are creating micro forests in the Sarasota region as an environmental strategy to combat climate change. When 4,000 trees and plants are planted on a small parcel of land, a micro forest is created. The goal of the project is to grow a 100-year forest in just 10 years
  • That humans contribute to making red tides stronger and last longer has been anecdotal. Now, researchers in Southwest Florida have explained that it's really true. Environmental researchers led by the University of Florida’s Center for Coastal Solutions documented the link after studying a decade of red tide data from the Caloosahatchee River, Charlotte Harbor, and the surrounding watersheds including the coasts of Charlotte and Lee counties. The findings are published in the June issue of Science of the Total Environment.
  • Everywhere listeners can hear WGCU Public Media on the radio is within the Southwest Florida region where dry soil and warm temperatures have had wildland firefighters on “high alert” since last week. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index, a measure of the lack of moisture in the soil, has been showing the region increasingly parched during the last two weeks, another harbinger of wildfire. The indicators were right. New wildfires of about 30 acres each, one near Immokalee and the other on the Lee-Hendry county line, were reported early this week, and a seven-acre fire in Highlands County is controlled, as well as a 41-acre blaze in the heavily wooded Rotunda West area of Charlotte County. A wildfire that scorched more than 20,500 acres east of Miami-Dade County over the weekend has been contained.
  • In April, the newest of the flying mammals are at peril, this time from perhaps unwitting humans. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is concerned that baby bats may be stranded by residents sealing up leaks and cracks in their home as the summer heat is set to arrive. April 15 marks the start of bat maternity season and is the last day to legally exclude bats from your home or building.
  • An international climate change conference in Orlando featured dozens of experts who spoke of carbon sinks, carbon traps, carbon sequestration and of being carbon neutral. However, it was the youngest, most soft-spoken, and newest scientist who received the only standing ovation. 26-year-old Precious Nyabami, a University of Florida graduate student, was honored for her discovery that farmers can easily trap large amounts of planet-warming carbon.