Red tide, a type of marine algae that undergoes an explosive growth and begins producing toxins, typically occurs off Florida’s southwest coast every year between late summer and fall and spring. Due to currents and winds, some tides never reach shore. But this year’s tide, Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials say, is the worst since the last big tide in 2006, that lasted for more than a year and a half and killed more than 250 manatees. Weather forecasters expect hazardous beach conditions to last at least through Thursday, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
Another reason global warming has not been too bad yet is because the ocean absorbs most of the earth’s excess heat. But oceans are warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, half of the increase in ocean heat content since 1865 has occurred over the past two decades. Warmer water holds less oxygen, but the respiration rate of animals (except for marine mammals) increases with temperature, so they need more oxygen at the same time that less is available. A warmer ocean has less turnover (vertical water movements), which normally brings nutrient-rich water up from deep water to the plankton that photosynthesize near the surface. With fewer nutrients, they photosynthesize less and animals can’t get enough food.
Environmental groups say the report underscores the need for the United States and Canada to keep supporting Great Lakes restoration efforts. A budget proposal released by President Donald Trump zeroed out funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, but members of Congress from the Great Lakes area say they’ll fight to retain it.
Since the beginning of April, Julia Parker has seen 216 sick pelagic birds come into the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. There were only four in February, and three in March. Of those 216, mostly loons, grebes, and murres, only 65 survived long enough to be transferred to the International Bird Rescue center in San Pedro. Many more have been found dead on nearby beaches.
Researchers have more than once warned of “dead zones” and toxic algal blooms as a consequence of changing climatic conditions. Ocean temperatures are increasing, and this in turn encourages a new set of biochemical processes.
Professor Hollibaugh and a colleague report in the journal Environmental Science and Technology that over the course of eight summers they measured peaks of nitrite, alongside massive increases in the numbers of the microorganisms that produce it, in coastal waters off Georgia.