Karenia brevis, also known as red tide, is a species of algae that occurs naturally in the Gulf. The blooming of red tide algae is harmful and discolors water to a reddish hue and produces toxic chemicals. These chemicals can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates in the water, causing creatures to die or be seriously injured. Red tide is also harmful to humans as it can cause respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing, tearing and an itchy throat) as the spores from the ride blows onshore.
Red tide can be traced back to the sixteenth century when European explorers arrived at the west coast of Florida. It is a natural seaweed that has been documented along the coast of the Gulf of Florida since the 1840’s and occurs almost every year. Blooms usually occur in late summer and may persist until late fall or early winter.
The red tide should not be confused with a bloom of blue-green algae. Known as cyanobacteria, is a naturally occurring bacteria that is found in fresh water mainly lakes and rivers. They produce harmful blooms when they come in contact with nutrient-rich water that receive a lot of sunlight. In the State of Florida, this nutrient rich water is coming from urban and agricultural runoff going into Lake Okeechobee. The blue-green algae blooms normally float to the surface and can be several inches thick, especially near the shoreline. It has covered many miles of Florida's beaches along the Atlantic coast with thick, smelly green mud. Exposure to blue-green algae and their toxins can cause diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.
It is important that we are able forecast the blooms of red tides and blue-green algae so that we can better prepare and protect our communities. While we struggle to learn more about these natural phenomena, we must deploy all available state's resources and invest in research and development do everything possible to make sure that the residents of Florida are safe, and the accompanying areas can recover. Our environment is our economy.
Florida is not just full of beautiful beaches, restaurants, and nightclubs. We are home to three amazing national parks including Biscayne Bay National Park. Less than an hour south of Miami and over 172,000 acres long, this park is vital in protecting Biscayne Bay and the offshore reefs. Here are 8 facts about the park:
Ninety-five percent of the park is water, and the shore of the bay is the location of an extensive mangrove forest. 1
Biscayne National Park protects four distinct ecosystems: the shoreline mangrove swamp, the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, the coral limestone keys and the offshore Florida Reef. 2
Biscayne National Park comprises 172,971 acres (69,999 ha) in Miami-Dade County in southeast Florida. Extending from just south of Biscayne southward to just north of Key Largo, the park includes Soldier Key, the Ragged Keys, Sands Key, Elliott Key, Totten Key and Old Rhodes Key, as well as smaller islands that form the northernmost extension of the Florida Keys. 3
The Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project (BBCW) is a CERP component specifically intended to redistribute water flow so that fresh water is introduced gradually through creeks and marshes rather than short, heavy discharges through drainage canals. 4
The earliest proposals for the protection of Biscayne Bay were included in proposals by Everglades National Park advocate Ernest F. Coe, whose proposed Everglades park boundaries included Biscayne Bay. 5
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Public Law 90-606 to create Biscayne National Monument on October 18, 1968. The park was later preserved and established on June 28, 1980. 6
Mangroves shed leaves at about 2 to 4 short tons per acre (4.5 to 9.0 t/ha) per year. Because the carbon in the leaves is sequestered by incorporation into animals, the mangrove swamp is estimated to have two to three times the ability to sequester carbon of terrestrial forests. 7
The mangrove forest on Biscayne Bay is the longest on Florida's east coast. 8
1 – 8: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biscayne_National_Park
National Preparedness Month, observed each September since 2004, serves as a reminder that we must all take steps to prepare for emergencies. When disaster happens, we are the first ones in our communities to act before first responders arrive. It is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community.
Here are some great tips to help you and your family get ready:
Tip Sources (all from Ready.gov): https://www.ready.gov/september
Pets Disaster Plan Guide: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1392389819026-75460345a2f4adcc5418a1da7cb25eef/2014_PrinterFriendly_PetOwners.pdf
The Biscayne Bay Aquifer is of the primary source of drinking water for South Florida.
Located just below the land surface it is composed of a porous rock with small cracks and holes through which rainwater seeps and fills. The water is collected into on-site and remote wells where it begins its water treatment process. The water is softened, settled in contact basins, passes through a primary and secondary disinfection, filtered for sand and anthracite, phosphorous is added to reduce corrosion, finally water is stored in reservoirs and remote tanks where the water is ready to use.
Sea level rise is possessing as a large threat to South Florida’s drinking water. With the sea level projected to rise between 3 and 7 inches by 2030, and 9 to 24 inches by 2060. This increase causes saltwater intrusion to the Biscayne Bay Aquifer, which is described as “movement of saline water into freshwater aquifers”. This process leads to contamination of drinking water which leads to a reducing on our already stressed water supply.
Florida leads the nation in water reuse. In 2015, it used over 700 million gallons of reclaimed water daily, representing 44% of the total domestic wastewater flow in the state1. Here are six additional facts about water reuse in the state of Florida.
6 & 7: https://www.sjrwmd.com/2018/05/district-recognizes-may-13-19-as-water-reuse-week-in-florida/