Red tide is lingering off of Florida’s Gulf Coast and agencies like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have a toolbox of ways to stay on top of it.
From the air and to the shore, FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute monitors the red tide blooms plaguing Florida’s coastal communities.
“So having a bloom that sticks around through the summer is not something that we see every year. So that’s a little bit unusual this year,” said Kate Hubbard, a research scientist with the FWC.
Hubbard leads the harmful algal bloom research and monitoring team and directs the Center for Red Tide Research.
“We work with a number of different partners all across the state, and those partners include, all the way from federal to our community scientists, and we have over 200 community scientists that are engaged and over 45 other partners that collect samples,” Hubbard said.
To collect those samples, researchers depend on sampling from bridges, beaches and boats.
“We’ve also been using some of our aerial resources at FWC. We have a fixed-wing plane, as well as two helicopters,” she said.
That gives researchers a bird’s-eye view of a red tide bloom boundary.
“If we can work with our partners and go up and sort of scout out where there might be a fish kill ongoing, then that can really help direct those cleanup efforts to focus in the right area at the right time,” Hubbard said.
And by being in the right place at the right time, they can help protect precious resources and those who enjoy them.
Another new tool the FWC uses is a FlowCytobot. Florida Gulf Coast University uses one, too. The tool automatically samples water and uses recognition software to identify what’s in the water.
MORE: To report Fish Kills, download FWC’s reporter app.