Red tide blooms occur naturally in the Gulf of Mexico, but human activity can make them worse once they reach Florida's coast, according to new research led by research scientist Dr. Miles Medina. The peer-reviewed study, published in Science of the Total Environment, links red tide blooms near Charlotte Harbor to nitrogen-enriched flows from the Caloosahatchee River, Lake Okeechobee, and upstream areas.

"Our study is the first to find evidence of what many have long suspected--that nitrogen inputs from the watershed make red tides more intense and make them last longer," said Dr. Medina.

The results indicate that human activity has consistently played a role in red tide intensification during the past decade, suggesting that we can reduce the severity, duration, and impacts of red tides through management of land-based nutrients and discharges.