WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT. A bizarre, toxic phenomenon is killing dolphins, manatees and whale sharks in the waters of Florida.
Dead marine creatures have been washing up on the shores, as an annual algal bloom dubbed the ‘red tide’ poisons the animals.
The deadly ‘red tide’, is a naturally occurring microscopic algal bloom which occurs annually along Florida’s Gulf Coast. It is caused by an overgrowth of the algae, which can discolour the water.
While the red tide has occurred every year since the 1840s, higher than normal blooms of the Florida red tide alga, Karenia Brevis, frequently occur in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
“Karenia Brevis produces toxins that can sicken or kill fish, seabirds, turtles and marine mammals,” the FWC said.
The red tide is worsened by run off from fertiliser and other pollutants in the water.
WINK-TV News meteorologist Matt Devitt posted pictures on his Facebook account of a number of dead marine creatures including manatees, fish and whale sharks.
“We’ve been battling both Red Tide in the Gulf and toxic Blue-Green Algae from the Caloosahatchee,” Mr Devitt posted.
“Born and raised in Florida and I’ve never seen it this bad,” he said.
The FWC warns that eating contaminated shellfish may result in “neurotoxic shellfish poisoning”, whereas “fish are safe to eat as long as they are caught alive and only the muscle is eaten”.