Red tide in Chile – level 3

Red tide in Chile – level 3

20-05-2016 15:00

It's believed to be one of the Chile's worst environmental crises in recent years. This is the horrifying effect of a “red tide”, an outbreak of a deadly algal bloom.

It's a naturally recurring phenomenon in southern Chile, turning sea water red and making seafood toxic, but the extent of this outbreak is unprecedented. Scientists say the El Nino weather pattern is a likely key factor, warming the ocean and creating bloom-friendly conditions.

This expert says it's been called the Godzilla el Nino in the United States because it's thought to be one of the most intense in the last 100 years. He said we had an intense el Nino in 1982, '97, and in 2015, but this most recent one is more intense than its predecessors.

The “red tide” has paralysed the local fishing industry, an important source of income for many coastal communities, and has sparked angry protests by fishermen who say the government hasn't provided enough compensation. Some are blaming the local salmon farming industry for exacerbating the problem, citing the dumping of dead fish by farmers in March. The government and salmon producers deny the link, but if the cause of the latest bloom is in dispute, the solution is even less obvious and environmental campaigners say the situation is not expected to get better any time soon.

Difficult words: algal bloom (a rapid growth of microscopic algae – a simple aquatic plant), phenomenon (something which happens in nature), unprecedented (not seen before), predecessor (something coming before), spark (to cause suddenly), compensation (help or money), exacerbate (to make a problem worse).


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