Toledo’s Not Alone: Red Algae Blooming in Florida Panhandle

Toledo, Ohio just finished battling its own algae bloom a week ago, but a new report says that the northern city and state are not alone in their battle – the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf of Mexico can be added to the list. Both cities are facing what some could call “Christmas color algae” – Toledo battling green algae and microcystin, while Florida battles red algae.

Florida is seeing its greatest influx of red algae that the state has seen in a decade, and researchers believe that the trajectory of the red algae influx puts a massive rush into the state’s water supply within the next two weeks. A smaller influx of red algae last year caused the deaths of the already-endangered Florida manatee. “It could have large impacts if it were to move inshore. It has been killing a lot of marine species, especially fish, as it waits offshore,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Brandon Basino. Florida has had its share of reports recently regarding the red algae bloom killing eel, octopus, bull sharks, grouper, snapper, flounder, and crabs.

The problem has occurred within Florida for centuries, but if not monitored closely, it can kill not only sea animals but also Florida’s bustling tourism industry – particularly in the summer months. With the current seafood deaths, the Gulf seafood industry could take a huge financial hit in the coming months. The current red algae bloom stretches from Tampa Bay to the Florida Panhandle curve.

To battle the problem, researchers have started gathering 2,000 square miles of water samples on a three-day boating expedition this week, as well as sending robots “Waldo” and “Bass” underwater to test the flow of the red algae tide over the next several months.

While the state of Florida has not placed any of its residents under a three-day tap water ban like Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins had to place Toledo residents, algae blooms that thrive out of control can bring toxins that can kill not only plant and animal life but also human life as well. Toledo residents have been told that the once-high levels of green algae have died down to normal levels, but a number of individuals still refuse to ingest their water supply that contained microcystin (a toxin known to cause liver and kidney damage).

NASA’s S-3 aircraft has been employed to help Ohio state officials and Toledo city officials determine the extent of the green algae bloom, what went wrong, and the current condition of Lake Erie.


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  • Key distinction- Toledo had algae in their fresh water supply. People in Florida do not drink the salt water out of the Gulf.