The tide, a wave of microorganisms that choke sea life, hit the Gulf of Mexico last November and now spreads over about 130 miles of Florida’s southwest coast. Gov. Rick Scott has issued a state of emergency for seven counties, where waterways and coastlines are filled with putrid fish floating in brass-colored water.
The red tide also poses a health risk to people. The microorganisms emit brevetoxins, which can get blown into the air. When the toxins are breathed in, they constrict passages in the lungs, causing people to cough and have difficulty breathing.