MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. -- People from all across Florida joined hands today in a peaceful protest. "Hands Along the Water" was a symbolic event to raise awareness about the affects algae blooms can have on our water and marine life.  

  • 'Hands Along the Water' event raises awareness of toxic algae bloom
  • People gathered across beaches in demonstration 
  • Red tide status report

Hundreds gathered on Madeira Beach at 10 a.m. and held hands for 15 minutes. The demonstration is in response to algae in Lake Okeechobee and the Red Tide bloom that's been killing sea life along the coast of Florida. Scientists at Mote Marine Aquarium spoke about the current bloom this week. 

They say it's a severe bloom but not the worst this area has seen. So far, it's been impacting the coast on and off for nine months. In 2004 a bloom lasted almost two years. Scientists are working to determine whether algae from Lake Okeechobee can make Red Tide worse when runoff from the lake ends up in the Gulf.

"That would very much be a hypothesis and we haven't demonstrated that connection," said Dr. Vince Lovko. 

Nutrients, both natural and man-made, could play a part in the bloom.

“It’s very possible they could use those nutrients to sustain duration but there’s a difference between can and do," said Dr. Tracy Fanara. 

Many in attendance at the "Hands Along the Water" event believe there's some correlation. But they're focusing on what people can do to help prevent toxic environments.

"I think it’s really important to cut out a lot of the phosphate fertilizers and weed killers," said event organizer Summer Skrovanek.

"Awareness, visibility, and hopefully people will stop with the trash on the beach, straws. We already stopped with the straws," said Marilee Mowinski, a Treasure Island resident.

For more information about red tide and if it's impacting your community, click here.