Florida DOH emails show agency struggled to manage algae crisis
With toxic algae fouling Southwest Florida’s inland waterways and coastline last year, state health officials faced a flood of worried questions as people turned to them for crisis leadership.
Some were specific: Were Caloosahatchee blue crabs safe to eat? Was it dangerous to breathe near the algae-choked canals? How about swimming in the Gulf?
Others were systemic: Who posts warning signs? Was any agency monitoring illness reports? Would water and air be tested for toxins?
As red tide devastated wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico from Sarasota to the Ten Thousand Islands, a simultaneous outbreak of blue-green algae contaminated the Caloosahatchee watershed. Images of bloated dolphin carcasses and people jet-boating through algae blooms filled news reports. Social media seethed with rumors and petitions. Former Gov. Rick Scott declared two states of emergency - one for each bloom.