As reported in a previous column, Peace River Wildlife Center admitted more than 40 lesser scaups (bluebills) in the final days of the previous year. In the weeks to follow, admission rates slowed, but did not stop. We have now taken in well over 50 of these medium-sized diving ducks that have been affected by red tide.
Red tide is the common name given to an algal bloom, an unusually high concentration of aquatic microorganisms in the water, which can cause a reddish or brownish tint, especially as seen from afar. In the Gulf of Mexico, that organism is Karenia brevis, and occurrence at this time of year is not uncommon. It is a natural phenomenon, but may be exacerbated or extended by nutrient runoff from fertilizers and other manmade conditions.
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