Desert Dust Kills Florida Fish | NASA Science


A study from 2001
August 30, 2001: It sounds like a story from the Old Testament: Without warning, the sea turns a shade of reddish brown, killing scores of fish and other marine life — and making the water an unwelcome place for humans.


Such “red tides” have, from time to time, plagued coastal communities for centuries. Now a new study, partially funded by NASA, has revealed a surprising connection between red tides in the Gulf of Mexico and giant dust clouds that blow across the Atlantic Ocean from the distant Sahara Desert. NOAA and NASA satellites can spot such dust clouds en route from Africa to the Americas, raising hopes that space-based data could help scientists predict when red tides will strike the Gulf coast.


Right: Scientists sample Gulf waters for iron, nitrogen, and algae concentrations. African dust not only encourages algae blooms, but also beautiful red Florida sunsets.


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