Causes and Effects of Red Tides

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Amanda Potts
27 November 2012
The Sea Runs Red
Golden sand rolls away and far into the distance under a breathtakingly blue sky and a joyfully radiant sun. The soothing voice of the surf reaches out groping tendrils to wash away worries. Shrill cries of seagulls interrupt the placidity while somehow adding to it as well. All in all, it is almost perfect. Almost. There is something wrong, something amiss. My gaze critically examines the beach once more, passing over birds toddling over undisturbed sand and rocks just peeking out of the blood red waves. Nothing seemed out of order. Wait -- blood red waves? Desperately believing it was a trick of the light, I scrutinized the sea once more. Sure enough, the ocean was a consternating shade of scarlet.

So what is this amazing phenomenon? A red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom. The red coloring in the waves is produced by a sudden spike in the population of ocean dwelling microscopic plants. The seaworthy topic is an ongoing argument between scientists. There is no determined origin, no established treatment, and the effects are devastating to both human and marine life. Something must be done to deal with this serious issue.

The exact cause of this natural phenomenon is still being debated; however, there are many ideas floating around. At a 2006 national red tide forum covered by Naples Daily News most of these notions were discussed. There are 24 theories about where red tide comes from: Seven focus on rainfall and river runoff, six focus on substances on the ocean floor, seven focus on substances in the water column and hydrodynamics, and four are chemically based. (Ochoa) Red tides usually occur after long periods of heavy rainfall and can thicken the water to a syrupy consistency and cut off the water’s oxygen supply (Description). It has been proved that substances released from the sea floor do not cause red tides (West). A water column is a conceptual column of water from surface to bottom...
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