|Portuguese Man of War|
Finally on our final day there, we were talking with some people who let us know the dirty little secret that they keep from us tourists. There was a red tide parked offshore due to the unseasonably warm waters. It is essentially an algae bloom that releases particulates into the air and causes all the respiratory symptoms we were experiencing. It was also killing large numbers of fish and other creatures that were washing ashore. I wondered what it was doing to our health but apparently long term affects are not really known. Seeing that my grandfather has bad respiratory ailments already, it was a good thing he didn't make it on this trip or it might just have been his final trip.
On our third or fourth day into our vacation, our morning stumbles hacking and rubbing our eyes along the beach saw hundreds of these blue 'jellyfish-like' things washed ashore. I'm glad I didn't poke one because later when our eyes had cleared up enough inside to do an internet search, I found out they were Portuguese Man of War. I had never seen one up close and on that day, I got to see more than I ever care to see again. We also saw several dead starfish, birds and other fish. The fish below was a more colorful version which I have never seen before and don't know the identification but if I had to guess, I would say some sort of puffer fish.
I'm back home now and the sore throat seems to have finally gone away so I hope the effects of the red tide are now gone for good with no lasting side effects. Now that I know about it, I have found lots of literature online of Florida's efforts to keep it under wraps so not to damage their tourism trade. I'm guessing as global warming heats our planet up, with will be harder to do so.