SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — Erin Brockovich is putting Florida’s elected officials on blast over recent algae blooms that are killing off marine life and causing respiratory issues on the state’s southwest coast.

The environmental activist has posted several times over the past week about what many are calling an environmental crisis in South Florida. In a post on Tuesday, Brockovich called for Gov. Rick Scott and all elected officials in the state to take action.

“What are you doing? What are you thinking? Are you just really going to stand by and stand down and watch this destruction?” she wrote. “You cowards! People are sick! The ecosystem, the marine life is dying! Do your damn jobs and get off your a** and help your people, your state, our environment. This is so wrong, at every level, that there are no words to describe it!” 

For the past month, several beaches along the southwest coast of Florida have been impacted by harmful algae blooms like red tide and blue-green algae. News Channel 8 viewers have reached out to us with pictures of dead fish and even manatees washed up along those beaches.

Red tide

The FWC describes red tide as a higher-than-normal concentration of microscopic algae. Many blooms produce toxic chemicals that can affect marine life and humans.

“The Florida red tide organism, K. brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die,” the FWC explains on its website. 

Red tide can also release toxins in the air, causing respiratory irritation.

Fish kills and respiratory irritation have been reported for the past several weeks in Sarasota County, Lee County, Charlotte County and Collier County. 

On Wednesday, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said a marine deputy came across a manatee paralyzed by red tide in Lemon Bay. The sheriff’s office said the animal was “still alive and able to breathe” as deputies waited for FWC assistance.

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