University of Florida trying to improve red tide communications with survey

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
red tide warning
Credit: WINK News

Red tide plagues Florida’s beaches nearly every year. In an effort to find out why, the University of Florida wants to make red tide communication more accessible.

UF researchers want you to give feedback on their current red tide website, such as how useful the information is and if the search function is useable.

All of this is part of a larger effort to improve statewide red tide communications.

We know red tide when we see it and smell it. Douglas Buchanan lives in Fort Myers and has been through the ups and downs. “It’s gotten progressively more challenging.”

“In 5th, 6th, 7th grade, I actually worked on a grouper boat as like, a deckhand, so I have kind of a unique perspective about the water quality because I recall how things were and how things are now,” Buchanan said.

Since the bad red tide bloom of 2018, Buchanan believes that communication of red tide events has improved.

“We kind of know what’s going on, what to expect next,” he said.

Despite this, there is still room for even more improvement so UF is stepping in.

“With the survey, we’re wanting to find out whether the red tide resources that currently exist are meeting the needs of people who need to use them,” said Betty Staugler, a Florida sea-grant agent who works with UF/IFAS.

By working with people in tourism, public health, and natural resources, researchers are hoping to have an effective communication plan to share accurate and easy-to-digest information on red tide events across all walks of life.

“The goal of a communications plan for Florida is to enable anyone to be able to access timely accurate information about Florida red tide,” Staugler said. “Whether we are in the middle of a red tide or at the beginning of a red tide, at the end of the red tide, or not even in red tide season.”

If you’d like to make your voice heard, you can fill out UF’s survey here.

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