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The sparkling white sand of Florida's southwestern beaches aren't dotted with sunbathers this week.

Red tide is a naturally-occurring toxic algae that often occurs along florida's gulf coast.

An unusual number of dead animals have been washing up on Florida's shores this summer.

Dozens of sea turtles are also turning up dead.

While the toxic algae blooms known as "red tides" are common off the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is calling the current event the worst in a decade.

Crews on Florida's Sanibel Island shoveled up and bagged dead fish Thursday as southwest Florida deals with one of the longest red tide outbreaks in years.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials have been trying to save as many sea turtles as they can. The algae bloom - which gets its name because the microscopic algae often turn water red - has already lasted since November of past year, and could stretch into 2019, some scientists are saying.

Harvesting of shellfish like clams, oysters or mussels in a Red Tide area is banned. The FWC also explains the carcasses are valuable for a cause of death determination and understanding marine health threats.

"FWC and DEP will enhance cleanup efforts, public awareness initiatives and water testing to ensure that Floridians understand the best ways to minimize the impact of red tide", a press release added.

But the bloom is not only unsafe to marine animals.

FWC says the muscle of crab, shrimp and lobster are not affected by Red Tide toxins.

Usually, cold spells break up or kill off some of the algae, but not this time.

A bloom of red tide algae has swept in from Naples to Tampa, killing marine life and tourism in its path.