Scientists want to try possible solution to help combat algae on larger scale

Reporter: Taylor Petras
Published: Updated:

One other solution could be this: a giant sponge mat: It’s part of the Aquaflex Project.

WINK News first told you about crews testing out the project along the Caloosahatchee about a week-and-a-half ago. Scientists say it worked, and now want to try it out on a bigger scale.

“This demo did illustrate that it does effectively absorb those toxins,” Jennifer Hecker, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

New test results show Aquaflex worked. It sucked up the toxins from the blue-green algae. Anywhere from 45,000 to 259,000 parts per billion.

A marine scientist from Florida Gulf Coast University working on the project says that’s a high concentration.

“And we can calculate how much was actually removed because right now all we know is that it absorbs the toxins,” Dr. Mike Parsons said in a phone interview. “So we know we can do it but we don’t know well how much can it absorb.”

The group is asking for $65,000 to put the Aquaflex over about an acre of algae-infested water. They say the money will also let them look at how many toxins were in the water before they deployed the technology.

“I think we have the right team to successfully investigate this technology and to see whether we can be better prepared in the future when these outbreaks occur so that we can respond more rapidly,” Hecker said.

They’ll also look at how much of the actual algae mass is sucked up too. There’s no specific spot picked out for the project yet.

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