Tampa Bay Records Hottest Water Temperature Ever: How Boaters Are Being Severely Impacted

Sep 6, 2023


Summer in Tampa Bay is home to breathtaking waters that offer a perfect escape for boaters from the blistering Florida sun. However, if you’ve gone for a swim recently, it’s probably felt more like a warm hot tub than the expected cool waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa Bay’s recent record-setting water temperatures pose a threat not just to beach goers, but also to boaters and their vessels due to increased biofouling and marine growth. In this article, we’ll explore the impact of rising water temperatures on biofouling and provide practical insights on how boaters can adapt to these changing conditions.

Record-Setting Water Temperatures in Tampa Bay

During the month of July 2023, record-hot temperatures were recorded at over 100 degrees in Tampa Bay, with temperatures off of Clearwater Beach reaching 93 degrees. According to an analysis provided by Matthew Rosencrans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the water surface temperature in the Gulf of Mexico was 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the historic average. As water temperatures reach unprecedented highs, it’s crucial for boaters to understand how it affects the marine environment and the implications for their vessels.

Biofouling Challenges in Warmer Waters

Rising water temperatures introduce a significant challenge for boaters – an increase in biofouling and marine growth on their vessel’s hull. Biofouling occurs when marine organisms such as barnacles, algae, and mollusks attach themselves to boat hulls, propellers, or any submerged area of a vessel. An abundance of these pesky sea critters not only affects a boat’s performance, but also results in higher maintenance costs and reduced fuel efficiency while underway.

To put the rise of water temperatures and its effects on biofouling into perspective, lab studies show that a mere 3.5 degree Celsius (6.3 degree F) rise in water temperature above the average can double the rate of biofouling on boats. That would mean boaters would need to double their boat maintenance efforts in order to keep up with the excess marine growth caused by warmer marine conditions. Otherwise, boaters risk rapid biofouling which can lead to vessel corrosion, reduced speeds, increased fuel consumption due to higher drag, and an overall less enjoyable boating experience.

Adapting to Rising Water Temperatures as a Boater

Boaters in Tampa Bay can take the following proactive steps to adapt to the unusually warm marine conditions and minimize the impact of biofouling:

1. Preventing Marine Growth:

To ensure optimal vessel performance, apply antifouling bottom paint to your boat’s hull. Regularly inspect your boat’s hull for chipped paint or damage that might provide a safe space for barnacle accumulation. It is generally recommended to apply antifouling paint at least once a year, depending on the marine environment that the vessel is located in.

Consider applying eco-friendly antifouling coatings as opposed to traditional chemical based alternatives. These eco-friendly coatings are made of biodegradable materials that are not only effective but also environmentally responsible, reducing the release of harmful chemicals into the water.

2. Cooling Systems:

Rising water temperatures can strain your boat’s engine cooling systems. Regularly check engine temperatures and monitor cooling system performance to prevent overheating and engine damage. Establish a routine maintenance schedule that includes thorough engine and cooling system checks. Preventative maintenance ensures optimal engine performance even in warmer waters.

3. Monitoring Water Conditions and Algal Blooms:

Stay informed about local water quality reports, particularly in areas prone to algae blooms and biofouling. Avoid navigating through these areas as certain algae can have harmful health effects that can ruin your day on the water. Toxic algal blooms such as red tide often thrive in the warmer waters of Tampa Bay. While red tide is not known to damage vessels, it can pose a serious threat to boater’s health.

4. Cleaning your Boat’s Hull:

Schedule regular professional hull cleanings with your local dive service or boat maintenance providers to effectively remove biofouling buildup. In the warm waters of Tampa Bay, it is recommended to schedule bi-weekly or monthly cleaning to prevent excess growth. Trusted boat cleaning services have the expertise and equipment to clean your hull without causing damage. Attempting to clean your own boat’s hull without proper training or dive certification is a dangerous task and should not be attempted.

For boaters with hull cleaning or dive service needs in the Tampa Bay, Clearwater, or St. Petersburg areas, contact your local experts at Tampa Bay Hull Cleaning.  


Tampa Bay’s record-setting water temperatures can be a headache for beach goers and boaters alike. But while boaters face biofouling challenges due to the warmer marine environment, they can adapt and mitigate these impacts through regular boat maintenance and innovative antifouling techniques. By taking proactive steps and scheduling professional hull cleaning services regularly, boaters can continue to enjoy the warm yet beautiful waters of Tampa Bay all summer.

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