State, USF scientists watching offshore red tide bloom closely

Red tide bloom threatens scalloping season

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Florida Fish and Wildlife scientists in St. Pete are looking at under a microscope at what is known as red tide.

"But at that size it has the potential if it comes inshore to really affect wildlife, I mean more than it's doing already and to affect humans,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Dr. Alina Corcoran.

"So they swim and you can see this is a single cell,” she said.

The naturally occurring algae bloom could have a huge impact on the Tampa Bay area -- our economy, our health and seafood -- if an expansive red tide bloom were to move ashore during scalloping season.

"At this point, the time of year, it's more likely that it will come inshore,” said Dr.Alina Corcoran

She says the large bloom could be a sign this will be an active red tide season.

"We do know that's there's red tide in deeper waters so that's where the threat lies, if those deeper waters come up on the bottom into the coast, that's when we'd experience symptoms like respiratory irritation,” she explained.

The bloom which is 80 miles long and 50 miles wide produces neurotoxins and shows up on satellite imagery as red patches stretching from Dixie to Pasco Counties.

"The size is at least five times of the Tampa Bay size,” said USF Marine Science Dr. Chuamin Hu.

USF scientists are keeping close track of how ocean currents are moving the red tide.

"This is Tampa Bay and the bloom is over here,” Dr. Hu pointed out.

Florida Fish and Wildlife says its keeping a close eye on this tiny organism which could cause Tampa Bay

"It's so sizeable it has the potential to impact a lot of different Gulf regions,” said Dr. Corcoran.

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