Link between Lake O bloom and red tide is a myth, scientists contend


Between the algae bloom and red tide, Florida’s coastal communities are fighting a two-front war, but the notion that the two environmental crises are linked is a myth according to numerous environmental scientists.

The current red tide bloom began in October 2017, months before the first signs of another bloom in the coastal discharges released from Lake Okeechobee by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If the fact that one preceded the other isn’t proof enough, Mote Marine staff scientist Tracy Fanara said as much to the Palm Beach Post last week.

“That’s the biggest misconception that we hear. Lake O releases did not initiate this bloom,” she said. “It is unique that it has lasted this late into the summer, but it’s not necessarily widespread and we’ve had blooms that have gone all the way up into the Panhandle.”

According to Fanara, even though the organism that causes red tide feeds of coastal nutrients, the Lake O discharges were too far south for that water to feed the beast. Strike two against a red tide-Lake O connections, according to her organization, is that freshwater simply isn’t the fuel red tide is looking for.

Neither Mote Marine nor Fanara are making maverick claims here — scientists at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have come to the same elementary conclusion, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is equally clear.

In IFAS’ own words: “Algae blooms are common in Florida waterbodies. Under the right conditions, these blooms can grow quite large and become harmful to human and ecosystem health. Recently, a harmful algal bloom (HAB) on the southwest coast of Florida has gained a lot of media attention. There are several pictures and news stories circulating on social media of dead fish and other marine animals washed ashore. Some media outlets and social media posts are incorrectly connecting these fish kills with a separate bloom occurring in Lake Okeechobee. However, these unfortunate fish kills are caused by an unrelated HAB known as red tide.”

Pitching these two blooms as related may make for more sensational headlines in an election year, but the only thing linking them is laziness in reporting — one look at the science proves it.

Staff Reports


  • Paul H

    August 13, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    I guess this justifies dumping LO waste water into the Atlantic/Gulf ??? LOL

  • Ph.D. Scientist

    August 13, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Mote has consistently avoided making any connection between red tide and man-made nutrient pollution. That is because so many of their Board of Trustees, private donors, and Republican congressmen are tied to real estate and development profits. However, any credible, knowledgeable scientist would realize that when nutrient pollution from coastal development and coastal habitat destruction (mangroves, marshes, creeks, rivers, seagrasses, etc.) occurs, algal blooms, including red tide, are fueled and can be made more severe and more extensive than they otherwise would be. So yes Lake O did not directly cause the red tide, but it likely fed a red tide that moved in from offshore. Waters and nutrients from Lake O do not remain immediately offshore of Charlotte Harbor, but move with coastal currents along the coast. Mote keeps trying to make vague and misleading suggestions that they are working to solve red tide, but with millions and millions of dollars spent over 40 years, Mote has not made a dent in red tide. Yet Mote keeps its hand out for more dollars, with the same scam of suggesting that they might solve it. Enough is enough. It is time to get best science and scientists working on red tide…not more Mote false promises and more political pork for Mote from politicians like Vern Buchanan.

    • Concered Florida Citizen

      August 14, 2018 at 11:42 am

      I completely agree, politics, greedand corruption is the real issue feeding this super bloom. I am not a scientist but common sense would dictate to run tests with sea water and red tide and sea water with Lake Okeechobee discharge water and see which grows faster and lives longer

    • Jerry

      August 15, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      And your marine biology degree is from what school?

  • Me Now

    August 13, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    This blog uses some sort of lame AI that apparently rejects comments that use nouns and other words that the stupid AI determines to be already discussed. Thus, this blog is not worth commenting on in the first place, if it will not allow amplification, clarification.

  • Dennis Vickers

    August 14, 2018 at 6:38 am

    My study and ecosystem says that when you get too much salt into your water it’s a lot like smothering. About Lake Okeechobee I figure with a proper water flow and guidance with mote Laboratory shell make a difference. Another scenario that would prevent algae bloom from creeping down caloosahatchee River. Is Lake hipocpchee at beginning were the caloosahatchee river and Lake hipocpchee meet Put a lock there.

    • Dr Science

      August 14, 2018 at 7:19 pm

      Locks are what ruined the caloosahachee flow to begin with. It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature!

  • M Parsons

    August 14, 2018 at 10:21 am

    ‘This article is much-to-do-about-nothing! It doesn’t matter whether this is one problem or two difference ones coming together. What matter is we have a HUGE environmental disaster on our hands! It is fact that what is feeding both types of algae is human-caused storm-water run-off (pollution) – for example, from over-fertilization of lawns – this nitrogen and phosphorus in our water ways along SW Florida is making this “naturally occurring” algae much much worse!

  • sandra duenas

    August 14, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    This article is so much BS even the link to UF IFAS only shows some introductory page to a department, the article doesn’t list the names of the researchers at UF that are supposedly making the ‘elementary’ conclusion that pollution from LO is not feeding the red tide AND the algae bloom.

    The reason I stopped reading Florida Politics is because of these un-referenced claims to some research BUT NEVER providing the actual names of the scientists nor a reference to their research to verify that the study is legitimate.

    Florida Politics please stop reporting on scientific content if you are not able to provrthe scientific refernr!

  • Reality wakeup

    August 20, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    How about you interview the scientist now after you mangled her findings and portrayed your perspective . She is furious of your false article that misrepresents her findings . Shame on you with this BS .

Comments are closed.


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