Hundreds Of Sea Turtles Dead In Florida After This Year's Red Tide

Research suggests the harmful algae bloom has been exacerbated by climate change
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Loggerhead Sea Turtle

It takes loggerhead sea turtles more than 20 years to reach maturity

Hundreds of sea turtles have been turning up dead on Florida shores this year in a tragedy
which experts believe to be linked to Red Tide, a natural phenomenon
exacerbated by rising temperatures.

Untimely
deaths

The number
of sea turtle deaths reported this year is unprecedented.

Sanibel-Captiva
Conservation Foundation Sea Turtle Researcher Kelly Sloan said:
"Our average
for the entire year is usually around 30 or 35, but we’ve had 53 in June and
July alone."

Meanwhile,
more than 160 have been uncovered between Collier and Sarasota County, with a massive
300-pound animal appearing ashore on Manasota Key.

Sloan
explained
that only 1 in 1,000 loggerhead turtles reach maturity, which takes
25 to 30 years - meaning that the potential for repopulation is severely compromised
by the upswing in mortality rate.

An arial photo of the red tide bloom in Southwest Florida (Photo: Facebook)

An arial photo of the red tide bloom in Southwest Florida (Photo: Facebook)

Red Tide

Red Tide is
a naturally occurring phenomenon - an algal bloom so dense that it changes the
appearance of surrounding waters, and can be toxic to local sea life.

While it
predominantly kills smaller animals, such as crab and bottom feeders, Sloan
says
she is 'very confident' that this year's bloom is the cause of the sea turtle deaths.

Climate
change

Researchers
believe that climate change is at the root of particularly aggressive algal
blooms.

Mike
Shlasko of the Coastal Wildlife Club said:
"Red Tide is caused by a
combination of warm water temperatures and low salinity and nutrients."

According
to the website of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, even in
instances where the climate-exacerbated blooms are nontoxic, they can create uninhabitable
environments for sea life, decreasing oxygen levels, 'blocking out sunlight' and 'clogging fish gills'.