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Pollution from inland sources, particularly fertilizers, can wash into the ocean and provide fuel for Karenia brevis. Key drivers are water temperatures and pollution from humans, according to Tim Davis, a Bowling Green State University biologist who studies algae.Lake Okeechobee has become a perfect petri dish for several strains of microorganisms in recent years, as a proliferation of farmland and towns has spilled nitrogen and phosphorous-based fertilizers into the watershed.The twin emergencies have hurt Florida’s tourist-driven economy, spurred calls for greater controls on fertilizers and other pollutants that fuel the fresh-water algae blooms and led to recriminations in the races for governor and the U. “Born and raised in Florida and I’ve never seen it this bad.” In fact, while this year’s red tide may be prolonged, it is no worse than those a decade ago.The history of ocean contamination and the blue-green algae infestations that taint the state’s interior are complex, and distinct.No surprise, then, that the pollution emergency has become a political hot spot in numerous races — including the bruising contest for U. Senate that pits Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, against Rick Scott, the state’s Republican governor.
Some wept as beloved manatees expired, bloated and tinted a ghastly green.The red tides seem to have increased in frequency and persistence over the last 20 years, though the historical record is too sketchy to say whether the events are really more prevalent.The current episode arrived in November and has lasted for nine months.That allowed water officials to store water from the giant lake, rather than release more water, and toxic algae, into the state’s already straining waterways.Relief from the twin scourges can’t come soon enough in communities like Fort Myers, where beachside restaurants have closed early and hotels have had tourists cancel.