New marine lab expands capabilities to research devastating impacts of algae

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:

Setting sail to tackle one of the biggest issues for our state, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is launching a marine lab to get answers in hopes to end the water quality crisis.

A research boat, a new lab, and a high-tech look at our water quality crisis, all launched despite the partial government shutdown.

It’s possible because this is a first of its kind public-private partnership in the Southeast, and donations are making it all happen.

Marine Laboratory Director Eric Milbrandt said, “How they form, where they form, how they disburse, and also what happens when they die,” will all help Southwest Florida learn more about red tide and blue-green algae.

Tons of dead fish washing up on beaches, thick green algae coating canals. It’s an image that can’t be washed away.

A crisis turning scientists into community counselors. “It sort of brought it to focus what the labs role is in the community,”Milbrandt said.

It also inspired meaningful donations.

Donor Keith Cambell gave thanks “to all of the people who joined us in contributing to build this really wonderful new research vessel, which is named after my mother. Norma Cambell.”

It inspired scientists like Milbrandt to delve deeper and choose specific, groundbreaking technology for a new lab at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

He says the goal of the research is to focuses on the symptoms of a bigger problem. Putting our water problems under the microscope, with more sampling,

And for the first time, they will have the ability to take the foundations’ scientists far into the Gulf, “We can go 100 miles off shore no problem,” Milbrandt said. Before, they were going less than 5 miles.

Aboard the Norma Cambell, scientist can rescue sea turtles, pull in plankton, and dive to our reefs and he says it’s a once in a career opportunity, to be able to design and build a new lab, and to be able to have a staff that has the knowledge and expertise.

Trust WINK News to keep you updated on the work coming out of this new lab.

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