Scientists monitor red tide increase off southwest Florida
The public can enhance monitoring using Mote’s smartphone app
Researchers are monitoring elevated levels of the naturally occurring Florida red tide algae, Karenia brevis, along southwest Florida. The public can follow online updates from multiple monitoring partners and even report coastal conditions using Mote Marine Laboratory’s new smartphone app.
Red tide monitoring and prediction in Florida is accomplished through a unique collaboration between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC’s) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the Florida Department of Health, Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of South Florida, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), county agencies, other private non-profit agencies, and citizen volunteers. The FWC-Mote Red Tide Cooperative Program leads joint research, monitoring and public education efforts focused on K. brevis red tide.
The single-celled K. brevis alga occurs naturally in the Gulf of Mexico and is observed throughout the year at concentrations considered to be “background.” Higher-than-normal concentrations of K. brevis can include “very low,” “low,” “medium,” and “high” levels. (Below is a table describing these concentrations and their possible effects.*)
During the past two weeks, water samples confirmed a bloom of K. brevis along Lee County, with several samples observed to contain high concentrations of K. brevis. Also during the past two weeks, background to low concentrations were observed in Charlotte County, background to very low concentrations in Sarasota County, and background concentrations in Manatee and Hillsborough counties, according weekly reports issued Nov. 18 and 22 by FWC, which gathers and analyzes red tide data and compiles data from partners statewide, including Mote in Sarasota County.