Red tide rarely comes up in conversation unless you live close to the ocean or enjoy watersports. Out of sight out of mind, but red tide blooms are becoming a catastrophic problem here in Florida. As the founder of Stingray, this one really hit close to home, so I felt it important to write a few words myself. Stingray would not be here without our beautiful oceans after all.
I am no environmental expert so please excuse my layman’s terms, however we are now in a situation that unless something is done by state government, the effects will be irreversible. And to be clear, these problems do not just affect Florida, they impact the entire US coastline and the world as a whole.
I had only heard about red tide until a month ago when I actually saw the effects for the first time. The last red tide bloom here was 3-years ago, but the photos and video you see in the media do not do it justice. The repugnant stench of death is very hard to describe. I have seen every single kind of fish imaginable floating dead on the water. As it moves down the food chain, my family and friends have seen dead baby dolphins, manatee, Stingray, sharks, and turtles, all poisoned by the toxicity of the water and the food they are consuming. We have been warned that unless this stops happening, Tampa Bay, where we live and Stingray is headquartered, will become what is known as a dead zone - A lifeless area of the ocean, something which I find impossible to imagine.
Red tide occurs naturally far out to sea, but if it is brought closer to shore by a storm then there is the risk that it will mix with human pollution such as sewage spills or fertilizer draining into the ocean. On this occasion we were hit by tropical storm Elsa blowing on shore. This was combined with a defunct fertilizer plant ejecting a ridiculous amount of phosphogypsum wastewater into Tampa Bay. Phosphogypsum is the radioactive waste from processing phosphate ore into phosphoric acid which is predominantly used in fertilizer. Add in a city sewage spill for good measure and you have a cocktail for disaster if ever there was one! This created a massive red tide bloom where the toxic algae began to suffocate the ocean and kill everything in it.
The greater problem here is that this is happening more frequently, no one is being held accountable, and no one in power really seems to care. While I watch the poor city workers dig piles of dead fish out of the ocean with JCB’s I ask myself what can I do? On reflection there is nothing I can physically do as one person, but through Stingray I can at least raise awareness, reach more people and point you in the right direction.
Stingray is fully supporting Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, part of a global Waterkeeper alliance. We are imminently adding them as one of our charity donation options, but also helping them raise awareness for what they are currently doing. In short, the red tide battle is a political fight, where people need to be held accountable and much tighter legislation needs to be put in place. Without serious accountability there is no deterrent against companies, cities and states doing this again and again. The waterkeepers are currently in a lawsuit against the owners of the spill site, the county and the state, for their complete incompetence in multiple situations. It’s a hard battle to win, but one that needed starting before it’s too late.
So please check them out and feel free to share their posts with your friends. I care, Stingray cares, and I know our customer base does too. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and thank you for your support.
Rich - Stingray Founder.