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Water-Related News

Loggerhead sea turtle deaths spike in Sarasota County

SARASOTA — Some of the world’s most vulnerable sea turtles are being found dead in Sarasota County with speculation that a toxic red tide bloom lingering along the Southwest Florida coast since October is to blame.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has documented 287 sea turtle deaths in the Gulf of Mexico this year, according to the Associated Press. Allen Foley of the commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said that’s about double the average number of turtle deaths in those waters each year.

The bloom sometimes stretches from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys. Foley said turtles become sick and die when their food (seagrasses, algae, and marine animals) is contaminated by the toxins.

Loggerhead and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the two species primarily affected by the bloom. Both are federally protected.