Rick Scott issues emergency order on Red Tide algae bloom

Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

Gov. Rick Scott is declaring a state of emergency across parts of Florida that have been overrun by a toxic algae bloom that is killing fish and emptying beaches and restaurants.

Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties are now under a state of emergency due to the toxic algae bloom, and his office added in a statement that "red tide is a naturally occurring algae that has been documented along Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840s and occurs almost every year".

"As Southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area continues to feel the devastating impacts of red tide, we will continue taking an aggressive approach by using all available resources to help our local communities", Scott said.

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The state of emergency covers Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Tourists and residents alike have been chased away from Florida's famous beaches by an ominous-sounding ecological occurrence: red tide.

Accompanying the emergency declaration is a "significant amount of funding" and "resources", according to Scott's office.

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Red tide has been documented in Florida's Gulf Coast since the 1840s and naturally occurs every year, but it usually subsides in the summer and has instead continued to worsen in its 10th month, prompting the executive order.

The declaration will provide $1.5 million in emergency funding and make state scientists available to help with clean-up efforts and animal rescues.

Red tide algae bloom has been documented along the Florida Gulf Coast for decades and happens almost every year. Scott has also ordered $500,000 go to Florida's tourism board to help local people and businesses recover from the drop in vacationers. The organisms, typically found in the Gulf of Mexico, produce toxins that can kill fish, marine mammals, turtles and seabirds by interfering with nerve transmission, according to a paper published in Ecotoxicology. Part of the reason why the red tide is so prominent this season is because there are some leftover blooms from a year ago, Bob Weisberg, a professor of physical oceanography at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science, told ABC News.

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Fish populations have been resilient to the impact of red tide, even after severe and prolonged red tide events.

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