“Unusual mortality event” of dolphins declared in southwestern coast Florida

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that since last July there has been a “high mortality” of dolphins on the southwest coast of Florida, where the phenomenon of red tide occurs.

The agency said in a report that until last December 20, 127 dolphins have died in what they have called “Unusual Mortality Event (UME, for its acronym in English), especially in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota counties. , Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas.

The report points out that the autopsies performed on some of the dolphins, which are of the bottlenose type, have confirmed that the causes of the deaths are linked to the red tide, which is an indication “that this UME is related to the bloom “of toxic algae.

“The dinoflagellate (the microalga Karenia brevis) that forms the red tide is commonly found at low levels in the Gulf waters, but it can have devastating effects when the cells multiply and form a flowering of harmful algae,” the report said.

This flowering, which although at a lower level is still ongoing in counties of southwest Florida, has also been the cause of the death of fish, sea turtles and manatees, adds NOAA.

The agency added in its report that between 2005 and 2006 the phenomenon of the red tide occurred and ended with the lives of 190 dolphins, among other species.

Since November 2017, the southwest coast of Florida suffers the ravages of the red tide, a natural and cyclical phenomenon that has spread more than normal, reaching even the southeast coast, with the consequent negative effect on local businesses that depend on the tourism.

Given the seriousness of the situation, on August 13 the state governor, Rick Scott, who in January will swear as federal senator, declared a state of emergency in seven counties affected by the red tide.

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