It has been one of The Big Wobble's biggest and most tragic stories of the last one and a half years.
A Florida red tide outbreak close to 16 months old has killed more sea turtles than any previous single red tide event on record, and manatee deaths are not far behind.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission attributed 589 sea turtles and 213 manatee deaths to this episode of red tide, which began in late 2017.
It had also killed 127 bottlenose dolphins as of the beginning of 2019, leading the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare an unusual mortality event.
Combine manatee deaths from red tide, human actions, cold stress and other causes was 824, according to a preliminary FWC report.
According to the Herald Tribune, a previous die-off killed 803 manatees in 2013 during another red tide bloom.
Preliminary data from FWC showed that the 824 manatee deaths in 2018 from both red tide, sickness and human-related causes surpassed the previous record of 803 set during another red tide outbreak in 2013.
Apart from the manatee, sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins deaths, it is thought billions of fish and countless birdlife have also died.
Because of the partial U.S. government shutdown, NOAA has not provided updates for dolphins on its UME website.
Dolphin strandings spiked in August and November, but have begun to slow down as red tide shows signs of weakening along the Southwest Florida coast.
Don MacAulay of Englewood said he felt the effects of the airborne toxins — a nearly 150-mile by 20-mile wide bloom at its peak — driving over the bridge to Manasota Key.
His throat and eyes burned from the aerosolized red tide toxins carried miles by the sea spray.
The stench of the carnage hung on the summer humidity.
“It was just horrible. Everywhere you stepped, you couldn’t go down to the shoreline.
It was lined all the way with dead fish. ... The bugs were worse.”
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