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Study Reveals Threat Of Toxic Algae Bloom To Florida Tourism

At Central Marine the algae exudes an overpowering smell. Photo by Amy Green
At Central Marine the algae exudes an overpowering smell. Photo by Amy Green

A new study shows that a toxic algae bloom driving Floridians from affected waters also is poised to drive tourists from the state.

More than half of those surveyed as part of the study were concerned enough about the bloom to consider delaying travel plans.

The study was conducted by the University of Florida's Tourism Crisis Management Initiative and Black Hills State University of South Dakota.

Lori Pennington-Gray, director of the Tourism Crisis Management Initiative, says many study respondents could not identify on a map where the toxic algae bloom is located, fueling fear.

"It's amazing that there are dots along the entire coastline of Florida. So you've got dots in Jacksonville, dots in Pensacola."

She says the bloom has wielded a greater impact than the Pulse mass shooting.

States of emergency have been declared in three east coast counties and a fourth west coast county where the bloom is concentrated.

Mark Perry is executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society.

"It's disappointing in a way that unfortunately you have to deal with this kind of situation because tourism is our No. 1 industry in Florida, and we're dependent on visitors to come to our areas."

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.