FGCU researchers didn’t see large patches of red tide during mission

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

FGCU researchers completed a red tide mission Thursday, where they studied the blooms in the Gulf off Southwest Florida’s coast.

Visitors on some beaches told us they felt the impacts of red tide. We spoke to a man who walks along the beach at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in North Naples every morning, and he said it seems to be worse during that time of day.

Researchers had some good news: They did not see too many signs of red tide while out on the water.

“We were doing a bunch of different sampling trying to detect red tide to see when it’s coming looking at water quality and improving new techniques that can improve our detection,” said Adam Catasus, a FGCU research and education coordinator.

The researchers say, compared to two weeks ago, the water looked a lot better while they were out for about 12 hours.

“Two weeks ago, there was a layer. You could see it. The water was red. There were cells in there, but it wasn’t to a bloom level,” Catasus said. “Today, we didn’t really see it, which is a good thing.”

The crew left around five this morning and went about 75 miles offshore. Even though they did not see many signs of red tide, they did see something worth keeping an eye on.

“There was a bloom of a different bacteria that is kind of a jump-starter, and the red tide can use that nitrogen,” Catasus explained.

“It was [definitely] interesting to see the bacteria in the water,” said Chloe Mikus, and FGCU red tide researcher. “Whether or not it’s a bloom, we don’t know.”

People we spoke to Thursday night said they didn’t feel any effects.

“It didn’t stop us from coming to the beach,” beachgoer Deb McCarthy said.

McCarthy says she knows what it’s like to go through a bad red tide season

“We stayed away from the beach the last time they had a severe incident of the red tide,” McCarthy said. “It was tough to breathe, definitely coughing.”

Most people say the blooms off the coast bow don’t compare to those experienced in 2018.

“Have not noticed it, have not smelled it,” Cassandra Lloyd said. “It hasn’t been a problem.”

The FGCU researchers are testing all the samples they collected. They say they still don’t know if this means the red tide is gone or not. It all depends on the right conditions for it to bloom. They will be heading back out soon for more samples.

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