I did not want to write this blogpost. Bigger than that, I didn't want to feel as if I had to write it. But if I insist on thinking of myself as an honourable, honest and decent person, I cannot limit myself to airy, light, foo-foo posts every day which, frankly most of my stuff is. And I know it. I do not delude myself. Nothing that I write here is Pulitzer level. I'm good with that.
So here it is. Red Tide. I don't know if you've heard of it. We had not until we moved here and even then it was a vague sort of knowledge because other than a few days one week either last summer or the one before, it just didn't apply to our actual lives. But now it does. Most of the west coast of Florida is currently being plagued by it big time. And it just sucks.
If you are as unfamiliar as we were until recently, Red Tide is a phenomenon known as an algal bloom that exists all over the world in salt water environments. The growth of this algal bloom depends on wind, temperature, nutrients and salinity. Right now it is blooming at an unprecedented level.
Historically there have been other very large "blooms". There were two in the 1950's that lasted six months each in fact! But this one....this one. I don't even know what to say about this one.
Red Tide on it's own is smelly. And that's not even the worst part. It makes people cough. It burns your eyes. People with respiratory problems might feel a sore throat or even shortness of breath. And that is not even the worst part.
Red Tide kills fish. Poor fishies. Day after day, dead fish wash up on shore. Not just the little fish either. While I haven't seen it, I've read reports of mantees, dolphins, sea turtles and even sharks found on the beaches, victims of the Scourge of Red Tide. It's breaking my heart.
AND it's offending my delicate olfactory system. Imagine an algae that is already smelly. Add in dead fish. Lots and lots of dead fish. If the wind is moving from west to east, that disgusting, gagifying scent permeates Everything.
Picture an especially fragrant landfill on a very hot day. Add in a water treatment plant. Now put them beside a cat food factory and a fish cannery. Still not as bad as a really bad Red Tide Day.
Two or three days ago, I was leaving the house to go to the grocery store. The instant I left the house the stink was like a slap in the face. I wondered what it was as I nearly ran for the car. I thought maybe someone was using a new fertilizer on their lawn.....something distinctly fish based. But when I reached the grocery store which is about a mile away, I could still smell it. I saw a family come out of the grocery store and the little boy immediately pulled his tee-shirt up over his nose. The little girl whispered to her mom in a whisper that could have been heard in Vermont, "Mommy it stinks here". Mommy shushed her but she wasn't wrong. It stinks.
This morning the wind was blowing toward the water so I didn't detect a single bit of it. Yay! I walked to the beach. There was not another soul to be seen. I walked onto the beach toward the water and yup, there it was a line of dead fish and a stink that could gag a maggot. Immediately I turned about and went home.
Some days are fine. Some days you would never know it was a problem. Other days, it is unmistakable.
I saw a chart at some point this week that indicated that Venice (where we live) the number which should be 0 of that red tide menace was in the 400's. I thought OMG! Then I saw that Manasota Key which is just south of us was in the 1600's. So that put things in perspective. It could absolutely be worse.
The so-called experts seem to disagree on what is causing this. Each of them is certain that they are correct and the other experts are wrong. Which absolutely does NOT help us find a solution. The one thing that they are absolutely sure of unfortunately, is that they have no idea how to fix it. Great. They assure us that it will soon be gone. How soon is soon? And then, Will it return? And if it does, when? If then what?
I hate to admit that our paradise is flawed but flawed it is. Hurricanes we can deal with. Not so sure about Red Tide.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.