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SWFL researchers continue work to combat red tide

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It’s not a matter of if, but when red tide will return to Southwest Florida’s coast, and when it does, researchers hope it won’t get as bad as it did in 2018.

With some technological efforts, scientists are working to wipe it out.

Capt. Harry Julian of Pure Florida has seen the highs and lows of Southwest Florida’s fishing.

“But now it’s about as good as it’s ever been,” he said, and while we haven’t seen red tide this season, “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant still and try and keep researching to make sure we know what causes it in the first place.”

That’s where Mote Marine Laboratory comes in.

“Really an exciting time in red tide research,” said Kevin Claridge, associate vice president for Sponsored Research and Coastal Policy Programs at Mote Marine Lab.

As part of the “Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative,” Mote announced a new round of projects to understand and combat red tide.

“We really started to look at a lot of new technologies, mitigation and control techniques and compounds, and things to mitigate: Ultraviolet light, robots, activated carbon, oxidants, things that have maybe worked in oil and gas remediation,” Claridge said.

It may be a few years before we see some of these methods hit the water.

“Maybe it’s compounds, maybe it’s technologies to use in different settings. Maybe it’s a canal, maybe it’s nearshore water, maybe you’re looking to deploy it from a vessel or a plane offshore. Those technologies are coming.”

It gets us another step closer to protecting our environment and economy.

These projects are part of the initiative’s second year, out of six. The first found of projects included using spent grain from breweries to control red tide and toxins.