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Algae Blooms Are Affecting Both Florida Coasts — Beachgoers, Manatees Are Paying The Price

dead fish on a beach in front of water
Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media
A fish carcass lies on the sand at Indian Shores Beach in Pinellas County on June 10, 2021.

While red tide remains a nuisance for Tampa Bay's beaches, manatees are dying on Florida's east coast due to algae blooms.

This week on Florida Matters, we’re looking at two crises facing marine ecosystems in our state.

First, red tide is back.

The toxic algae has spread along the coast from Charlotte and Lee counties to Pinellas, where county workers spent last week scooping up hundreds of dead fish and other affected sea life along the shore.

Thousands of gallons of waste water from an abandoned phosphate mine spilled into Tampa Bay earlier this year. That could be one factor in this year’s outbreak — but it’s not the only reason.

Host Bradley George talks with WUSF’s Jessica Meszaros, who covers environmental issues. She has covered the red tide problem for years, both in Tampa and in Fort Myers.

And later, we’ll hear about why so many manatees are dying in the Indian River lagoon on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Since last year, manatees have been dying at an alarming rate. It’s the result of continued pollution in the lagoon where the animals often feed on sea grass.

George discusses the deaths with reporter Max Chesnes, who is covering the issue for Treasure Coast Newspapers in south Florida.

You can listen to Bradley’s full conversations with Meszaros and Chesnes above by clicking on the “Listen” button. Or you can listen to the WUSF app under “Programs & Podcasts.”

Dinorah Prevost is the producer of Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show.
Bradley George comes to WUSF from Atlanta, where he was a reporter, host, and editor at Georgia Public Broadcasting. While in Atlanta, he reported for NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and The Takeaway. His work has been recognized by PRNDI, the Georgia Associated Press, and the Atlanta Press Club. Prior to his time in Georgia, Bradley worked at public radio stations in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina.