A lot of fingers are pointing at big sugar and releases from Lake Okeechobee as causes for our historically bad red tide.
Now, the country’s largest sugar company, U.S. Sugar in Clewiston, is fighting back.
They’re using a Mote Marine scientist’s words as evidence to distance themselves from red tide, and that scientist is telling WINK News exclusively that they’re misusing her statement and she wants no part of it.
“They’re kind of using what we were saying to their benefit,” said Mote Marine scientist Dr. Tracy Fanara.
The words appeared two weeks ago in a newspaper article by the Palm Beach Post on August 1. Dr. Fanara is quoted as saying the Lake Okeechobee releases aren’t the cause of this red tide bloom.
The issue is the word ’cause’.
Fanara says, we know red tide is naturally caused, but that doesn’t mean Lake Okeechobee releases don’t make it worse.
She explained, “If a bloom is close enough to the shore to utilize surface water nutrients, then a bloom may be sustained or exacerbate to reach intensity.”
Fanara says U.S. sugar is using her to bolster its claim that freshwater flows from the river aren’t contributing to the growth of red tide – leaving out that man-made and natural nutrients can be used as fuel for the red tide.
And sugarcane farmers are taking a stand, telling WINK News earlier this week they’re not to blame.