FGCU conference seeks to mitigate red tide impact

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:
Red tide leads to the death of marine life in March. (Credit: WINK News)
FILE: Red tide leads to the death of marine life in March. (Credit: WINK News/FILE)

Our beaches are packed right now, but as we become closer to summer there are worries an abundance of dead fish could wash ashore once again.

Scientists at Florida Gulf Coast University are talking about the future of Southwest Florida waters, along with policy and how funding it is allocated.

“A lot of people are scared,” said Dr. Mike Parsons, FGCU professor of Marine Science at FGCU. “A lot of people are losing money. It’s hitting home and so that brings up a lot of emotions. There’s a lot of frustration.”

But for many researchers, confusion is not one of them. It is not if red tide will hit again; rather, it is how Southwest Florida can lessen its intensity and frequency.

“I’m not sure that we’re prepared yet and I’m pretty confident that it will happen again,” said Win Everham, professor of Environmental Studies at FGCU. “If the bloom is as big, it’ll be just as bad unfortunately. You might not see is many dead fish because we killed so many last year.”

With last year’s devastating water quality crisis and the warm summer fast approaching, students, researchers, activist and concerned people stopped to talk about it.

FGCU held a biodiversity conference, which was devoted to education, policy-change and research on water quality. The key, researchers said is inclusive conversation.

“I disagree with the people who just want to point the blame someplace else,” Everham said. “We all live on this landscape. We all play a part.”

Everham said there are many causes in a variety of industries, but agreeing on a course to action is paramount.

“Close to half the people have been here for less than five years,” Everham said. “You want them to make wise personal decisions. You want them to vote in effective ways, but they don’t really understand the landscape.”

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