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New Study Finds Red Tide Lethal For Baby Stone Crabs

Stone crab is one of Florida's most valuable fisheries.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The red tide on Florida's Gulf Coast last year killed dolphins, manatees and fish. A new study finds the toxic algae also affects stone crab, one of Florida's most valuable seafood products.

Stone crab larvae exposed to a high concentration of red tide algae in a laboratory tank all died within four days.

That's according to a new study from Mote Marine Laboratory and Pitzer College. The study was published in the journal Harmful Algae.

Larvae in a tank with a medium concentration of red tide had a mortality rate 30 percent higher than a control group in a tank without red tide.

The study's authors say the difference in mortality between high and medium concentration means it's worth investigating how to make red tides shorter and less intense.

Red tides occur naturally in the ocean, but may get added fuel from nutrients produced by people that wind up in the water. That includes fertilizers and wastewater.

Stone crab is Florida's fourth-most valuable commercial fishery, with an estimated landings value of more than $30 million in 2016.

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Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.