Before Michael, the toxic fish-killing algae had already peaked, and hopes are high that if there's a silver lining to Michael it's that the surge and wind and torrential rains might have broken up the blight. But it's also possible that the organism responsible for the outbreak could be recharged by the nutrients washing back into the Gulf, spreading its deadly impact over an even wider area.
Much depends on water temperature, currents, and the release of nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater, yard fertilizers and other sources during and after the storm, biologists say.
"This may very well break up what remains of that red tide," said Duane DeFreese, executive director of the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. "The question is what happens in the aftermath."
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