Sharks seek refuge in Florida canal due to red tide outbreak [Video]


  • Coastal sharks have sought haven in a Florida canal in the town of Longboat Key over the red tide outbreak.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissions (FFWC) reported fish kills in nine counties and complaints of respiratory health concerns in five counties.
  • Prof. Mike Heithaus, also a shark expert, said that the phenomenon was bothersome and needs to be addressed.

As a toxic red tide outbreak loomed over the seas in Florida, hundreds of coastal sharks have appeared in the state’s canal to escape the poisonous catastrophe.

Unusual videos recorded by Buttonwood Harbor residents in Longboat Key town in Florida revealed large fishes such as bonnethead, blacktip, nurse and lemon sharks swimming within their community.

For years, Florida has been striving to curb the red tide which is brought about by the algae Karenia brevis. Marine biologists said that this year’s blooms were remarkable.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FFWC), nine counties have recorded fish kills over the past week, while five counties received complaints linked to respiratory issues because of the outbreak.

The high levels of red tide were traced in Longboat Key and within the Sarasota vicinity, the FFWC said.

Sharks have run away from polluted water and rotting carcasses, as they sought to take refuge in an area with oxygen and available food, experts said.

“You just don’t normally see sharks piling up like that in these canals, they do go in there but not in the huge numbers that we’re seeing reported,” Shark expert and Florida International University professor Mike Heithaus said.

“We don’t know what the trigger might be for those sharks going to those areas, but the changes in the chemistry of the water, the oxygen being pulled out of the water, the toxins, combined with the amount of dead fish around, any of those could cause these big concentrations.”

He also noted that “seeing these kinds of things happen just shows how out of balance things are in the ecosystem right now” and that it should be addressed accordingly before it further escalates.

“We really need to start working very hard in Florida on addressing some of the causes of these blooms, too much nutrients getting into the water, and that can come from lots of different sources, so we really need to be working on all of it.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL.) reestablished an algal bloom taskforce in 2019 to analyze the red tide crisis.

As of the present, the survival of the sharks would rely on the oxygen levels in the canals. If water heats up, it would post another threat to the animals.

“If the conditions are really bad outside that canal, they might be stuck until the conditions get to the point where there’s enough oxygen or there aren’t toxins if they were to leave the canals,” Heithaus said.

Source: The Guardian

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