By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
(NEWSER) – Under increasing pressure to handle Florida’s brutal red tide, a toxic algae bloom killing hordes of marine animals and causing respiratory issues for some people, Gov. Rick Scott made the call. Late Monday, he declared a state of emergency in seven counties along the state’s southwestern coast, setting aside $1 million for cleanups, animal rescues, and research, plus another $500,000 to promote tourism. Travelers aren’t exactly drawn to the 267 tons of dead fish, eels, manatees, turtles, dolphins—even a whale shark—that have washed ashore in the state this year, per Quartz. “We will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover,” Scott said in a statement.
It came after Sen. Bill Nelson faulted Scott—who’s seeking the Democrat’s Senate seat in November—and after thousands joined hands on Florida’s beaches to raise awareness about the Karenia brevis algae boom, per the Washington Post. Such blooms have been documented since the 1840s and usually last about five months. This one has persisted for 10, per Newsweek, making it the longest-running in more than a decade, Fox News notes. Algae toxins can become airborne, and some people are experiencing mild respiratory issues as a result. “It’s like being hit with a tear gas,” one researcher puts it to CNN, with the Post describing burning eyes and throats. CNN reports a toddler had to visit the emergency room with “upper airway inflammation” linked to the algae on his first day vacationing in the state.