Toxic algae blooms off Florida coast ravage marine life: “It’s an absolute nightmare”


Tampa Bay, Florida – The beaches near Tampa have been littered with dead sea creatures, killed by a massive algae bloom that marine scientists say has been made worse by pollution.

Tyler Capella, who runs a fishing charter business, took CBS News to Tampa Bay to see what he calls his nightmare. Dead fish are everywhere, killed by a red tide that has made Tampa Bay toxic.

“It lasts forever,” Capella said. “It’s devastating. My worst fears have come true. I mean, it’s an absolute nightmare.”

Capella documents fish kills to pressure elected officials to help her. He even covered himself with dead fish.

“Dead fish as far as the eye can see in all directions, big, small,” he said. “It looked like a bomb had gone off.”

Red tide in Tampa Bay Florida leaves dead fish along shoreline
Thousands of dead fish float in Boca Ciega Bay near the mouth of Madeira Beach on July 21, 2021, in Madeira Beach, Florida. The red tide, which is formed by a type of bacteria, has killed several tons of marine life in Florida so far this year.

Octavio Jones / Getty Images

Red tides occur naturally off the coast of Florida, but scientists say they are occurring more frequently now and humans are making them worse.

Warming ocean temperatures due to climate change could lead to more red tides. This spring, more than 200 million gallons of polluted water from a former phosphate plant were thrown in the bay, which could have aggravated this red tide.

It now covers about 100 miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast and has moved into Tampa Bay.

Michael Crosby, who studies red tides at the Sarasota Marine Laboratory, said the move to Tampa Bay was “very unusual.”

“It’s getting very difficult for her to get back on with the lapping tides,” said Crosby.

Capella fears he is running out of time. He said he was “100%” worried about his livelihood. “My fear is that this whole region has the potential to become a dead zone,” he said.

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