Published Date: 2005-08-19 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Red tide- USA (FL)(05): sea turtles
Archive Number: 20050819.2437
RED TIDE - USA (FLORIDA)(05): SEA TURTLES
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail, a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Sponsored in part by Elsevier, publisher of
Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease
Date: 18 Aug 2005
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: AP via WKMG,TV6,Orlando, Florida [edited]
This summer's red tide outbreak is killing record numbers of sea turtles
off the southwest Florida coast, scientists said.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 106 sea
turtle deaths were reported from 26 Jun - 15 Aug 2005. The 10-year average
for the same period is 17.
Red tide poisoning affects turtles' brains, causing muscle twitching and an
inability to control their neck functions, said Charles Manire, chief
veterinarian at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.
The institute has reported 113 sick or dead turtles so far in 2005. The
total for 2004 was 83.
Manire said the turtles might be inhaling the toxin, or eating infected
crabs, shrimp and small fish.
Researchers have not determined whether the turtle deaths are linked to a
large region of the Gulf of Mexico bottom about 10 miles offshore, where a
red tide bloom has choked off oxygen and killed undersea life, Manire said.
From Sarasota County to Pinellas County, the red tide has killed crabs,
sponges, soft corals and other bottom-dwelling marine organisms.
A red tide bloom forms when a microscopic algae reproduces at an explosive
rate. The algae emits a neurotoxin that can paralyze or make breathing
difficult for fish, manatees, or even humans that inhale or ingest it.
A winter bloom killed 47 manatees, said Cindy Heil, a senior scientist for
the state's wildlife research institute.
[Red tide has been quite bad this year and has produced problems all along
the eastern US coast.
A review of red tide is presented in ProMED-mail post 20050521.1406, and a
review of this situation on the Northeastern seaboard of the US can be
found in 20050531.1508. - Mod.TG]