Red tide bloom breakthrough for researchers

11:17 AM, Oct 29, 2012   |    comments
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  • Mote Marine Laboratory scientists gather water samples from the current bloom off Sarasota and Charlotte counties.



Sarasota, Florida -- No one likes the dead fish, cleanup, and coughs that come with a red tide and a serious bloom can devastate beach business. But the bloom that's been hanging off the coast near Sarasota County is offering some great opportunities for scientific research.

"It's really exciting, because we've been waiting for this for so long," says Mote Senior Scientist L. Kellie Dixon.

Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory have been studying red tide for years, but because there hasn't been a major bloom close to shore since 2005, they've had to use red tide algae grown in a lab. But now they've been able to retrieve water samples from the current bloom and the real-life mix of organisms and water could make a big difference in their research.

"After multiple generations in the laboratory, cultured organisms really aren't the same; they don't give the same responses as the 'wild ones' if you will," says Dixon.

Researchers at Mote are adding various nutrients to the water samples and studying how the algae grows and that's the first step in learning how to control a harmful bloom.

"If there ever is a control mechanism, it will be to interrupt that growth," explains Dixon.

Because a serious red tide can really hurt the economy in a tourist area like this one, there is a push for Mote, state and USF scientists to learn as much as possible and the bloom out there right now is helping their research to bloom.

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