Red tide is being blamed for paralyzing a manatee that was found stuck Wednesday.
A Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office marine deputy found the manatee stuck on a sandbar in Lemon Bay while on patrol, a Wednesday afternoon Facebook post showed.
The manatee, according to the sheriff’s office, was paralyzed because of red tide but was found alive and able to breathe. A life jacket was seen placed under the manatee’s head to help keep it above water. A good Samaritan and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials were also spotted in photos posted by the sheriff’s office helping the deputy.
The manatee was taken to SeaWorld for treatment and monitoring before being released back into the wild, a second post noted.
Red tide is a “harmful algal bloom with higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga,” many of which produce a toxic chemical, according to the FWC. “The organism that causes Florida’s red tide is found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico” and how long the red tide lasts depends on physical and biological conditions.
Toxins in Florida’s red tide can affect the central nervous system in vertebrates, according to the FWC.
Red tide is affecting waters along Florida’s southwest coast this year. A dead whale shark was found on a Sanibel beach in July, thousands of dead fish — along with 10 Goliath grouper — have washed up dead along the shorelines, seabirds have gotten sick or died from the conditions and sea turtles have been stranded. Cape Coral Yacht Club saw a dead manatee wash up on a boat ramp.