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Hurricane Michael may have disrupted the red tide of Florida – NBCNews.com

Hurricane Michael may have disrupted the red tide of Florida – NBCNews.com

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In the past year, Florida was plagued by red water, a dangerous algal bloom that kills marine life and is typically crystal clear water-brown and smelly.

But after Hurricane Michael drew through the Gulf Coast, large parts of the state could take a break from the algae, which had caused huge amounts of fish, birds, dolphins and more to kill themselves on the Florida coast.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) monitors the amount of Karenia brevis cells, the microorganism that causes red tides, in the water. The group reported low or no traces of it in many parts of the Gulf Coast where recent red tides existed. The data used represent the most recent eight days of sampling.

Image: Toxic Red Tide
Fish are washed ashore on the Sanibel road after they have died in a red tide in Sanibel, Florida on 1 August.File of Joe Raedle / Getty Images

It was not immediately clear whether Hurricane Michael was the cause of the sharp fall in the red tide, but Tom Frankovich, a biologist at Florida International University, said storms can help break the algae.

"It is as if the ocean water in the hurricane goes through one large blender thoroughly and spreads over a larger area," said Frankovich.

Frankovich said that the hurricane also causes turbidity in the water, which means that the amount of light entering the water decreases and that part of the colder lower level of the sea water is also brought to the surface. Both factors make it more difficult for red tide to survive.

With the exception of two areas of "low" or "very low" detection of Karenia brevis cells, the daily FWC sample map shows no apparent tide on the west coast of Collier County in southwest Florida to Manatee County, about 174 miles north.

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