Florida Gov. Rick Scott declares state of emergency amid red tide crisis

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for several counties suffering from the impacts of a prolonged red tide.

According to the governor's declaration, red tide is a naturally occuring algae that appears almost every year on Florida's Gulf Coast. However, the tide is toxic and it has been killing thousands of marine animals, leaving beaches and shorelines covered with dead wildlife.

With Scott's emergency declaration, the state will be able to dedicate more funding and resources to the communities suffering from the effects of the red tide "so we can combat its terrible impacts."

The order is in place for Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. It will make Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists and scientists available to assist in animal rescue efforts, as well as cleanup efforts. The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium will receive more than $100,000 in additional funding to increase its response to the red tide.

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Red tide kills hundreds of animals off Florida coast
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Red tide kills hundreds of animals off Florida coast
CAPTIVA, FL - AUGUST 01: A fish is seen washed ashore after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Captiva, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL, FL - AUGUST 01: A loggerhead sea turtle is cared for at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, after it was found washed ashore after becoming sick in the red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Dr. Heather Barron, from the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, said, 'this year's red tide is absolutely the worst she has seen for adult sea turtles,'. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CAPTIVA, FL - AUGUST 01: A Red fish is seen washed ashore after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Captiva, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL, FL - AUGUST 01: A Goliath grouper is seen washed ashore the Sanibel causeway after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL, FL - AUGUST 01: A Goliath grouper and other fish are seen washed ashore the Sanibel causeway after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL, FL - AUGUST 01: Dead fish line the shoreline along the Sanibel causeway after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CAPTIVA, FL - AUGUST 01: Sally Bowman takes a picture of a dead Red fish that washed ashore after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Captiva, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL, FL - AUGUST 01: A Goliath grouper and other fish are seen washed ashore the Sanibel causeway after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL , FL - AUGUST 01: Fish are seen washed ashore the Sanibel causeway after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CAPTIVA, FL - AUGUST 01: Veterinarian Dr. Heather Barron, from the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, cares for a Loggerhead sea turtle that was found washed ashore after becoming sick in the red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Dr. Barron said, 'this year's red tide is absolutely the worst she has seen for adult sea turtles,'. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL, FL - AUGUST 01: Veterinarian Dr. Heather Barron, from the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, checks the health of a kemp's ridley sea turtle that was found washed ashore after becoming sick in the red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Dr. Barron said, 'this year's red tide is absolutely the worst she has seen for adult sea turtles,' as they rehabilitate some of the turtles being found needing help. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL, FL - AUGUST 01: Veterinarian Dr. Heather Barron, from the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, checks the health of a kemp's ridley sea turtle that was found washed ashore after becoming sick in the red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Dr. Barron said, 'this year's red tide is absolutely the worst she has seen for adult sea turtles,' as they rehabilitate some of the turtles being found needing help. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL , FL - AUGUST 01: Fish are seen washed ashore the Sanibel causeway after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SANIBEL , FL - AUGUST 01: Fish are seen washed ashore the Sanibel causeway after dying in a red tide on August 1, 2018 in Sanibel, Florida. Red tide season usually lasts from October to around February, but the current red tide has stayed along the coast for around 10 months, killing massive amounts of fish as well as sea turtles, manatees and a whale shark swimming in the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Additionally, $500,000 will be allocated to help local communities maintain their tourism industries, "that support so many Florida families and businesses." About $1.3 million has been allocated to Lee County alone, which has been hit particularly hard, according to the governor's declaration.

"While we fight to learn more about this naturally-occurring phenomenon, we will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover," Scott said in his declaration.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, red tides can last anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year. The tides produce toxic chemicals called brevetoxins that can harm the central nervous systems of fish. Swimming is usually safe during red tide, but it could cause skin irritation or lead to serious illness for those with severe or chronic respiratory conditions. Controlling a red tide is especially difficult, the Conservation Commission explains, because any controls must kill the red tide organism and eliminate the toxins the organism releases when it dies.

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