Red tide map lighting up in SWFL

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:
Gulf of Mexico. (CREDIT: WINK News)

The Red Tide map’s lighting up on Friday, is not a good sign as our community works to recover from Hurricane Ian.

Aboard the floating laboratory, the WT Hogarth Research Vessel, WINK News spotted the colors of the Gulf changing from brilliant blues to less-vibrant greens and murky browns.

James Douglass works as an associate professor of marine science in the water school at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“And one of the most worrisome observations we made was a big patch of wine-colored water,” Douglass said.

And a big red flag…

“We suspected that that might be red tide,” Douglass said.

And the latest sample analysis from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission matches up.

“In fact, red tide is appearing in patches from Sarasota down into Lee County. So we’re really concerned that those patches of red tide might grow and spread, because there’s so much nutrients in the water now to fuel the growth of algae like red tide,” Douglass said.

Red meaning over one million karenia brevis cells per liter.

Doctor Mike Parsons is a professor of marine science in the water school at FGCU and he shared some thoughts with WINK News.

“Typically, you need to have a bloom condition for people to feel it and so that’s about a 100,000 cells per liter. And so to put that in perspective, red tide is always around, it just in really, really low numbers,” Parsons said.

While red tide is a natural phenomenon, humans contribute and storms are known to churn up the waters.

Adam Catasus works as an Education and Research Coordinator for Vester Field Station, and he also shared some thoughts with WINK News.

“The thing that is we really just no one honestly knows is where it’s gonna go. So where’s it gonna move? Is it gonna grow more? Is it gonna get bigger? Or is it just gonna kind of wobble and just move around in the same area? We don’t know,” Catasus said.

The researchers are analyzing their own results from samples taken aboard the Hogarth. They’re looking at nutrients, chlorophyll, metals, studying the sediment, and floating particles in the water.

“And try and use that information to then figure out and manage how to move forward and understanding what conditions are making it bloom,” Catasus said.

Because blooms have bigger implications as we’ve seen in the past on areas like tourism and the economy.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.