Date of Award

Spring 2020

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Dr. Tonia Warnecke

Committee Member

Dr. Bruce Stephenson

Committee Member

Dr. Cecilia McInnis


Southwest Florida’s red tides are characterized by patches of maroon-colored water, respiratory irritants, and elevated levels of marine mortalities. While a natural phenomenon, red tide has a devastating impact on aquatic ecosystems that become overwhelmed with dense aggregations of unicellular organisms and the subsequent brevetoxins that are released into the air. ​This paper reviews recent research on the Gulf Coast’s red tide epidemic in an attempt to fully understand the cause of the heightened intensity, frequency, and duration of algal blooms. It goes on to highlight the Sanibel and Captiva Islands’ rich history in conservation, and how this foundation of sustainability and corporate responsibility has promoted the rise of grassroots organizations and a strong culture of island preservation. ​Lastly, this review includes interviews with prominent community members who are diligently working to improve Florida’s water quality, and has profound implications for future studies of red tide blooms and their impact on local business. The underlying intent of this thesis is to influence legislation to minimize fertilizer consumption in Florida and to increase awareness regarding our role as consumers and advocates on behalf of our natural resources.

Rights Holder

Dahlia Arado Lilleslatten