Symposium brings top minds in fight against algae like Red Tide - WFLA News Channel 8

Sarasota symposium talks red tide with top researchers

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Researchers studying red tide at Sarasota symposium Researchers studying red tide at Sarasota symposium
Researchers studying red tide at Sarasota symposium Researchers studying red tide at Sarasota symposium
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Every so often, a harmful algae forms in the gulf leaving a terrible impact on the Tampa Bay region.  It's called "red tide". It causes respiratory problems, fish kills, and led to nearly 300 manatee deaths this year.

But you probably didn't know that algae blooms affect nearly every state in the nation.

It can poison birds, kill fish, there’s even a specific strain of algae that can eat holes through human brains!

This week, a national symposium is going on in Sarasota to help combat the problem.

The 7th Symposium on Harmful Algae in the US brings America’s top minds into one room to see how they can better protect humans and the environment.

Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick from Mote Marine Laboratory said, "Part of that is understanding each other's issues, and figuring how we can help each other."

The symposium is an event organized by Mote Marine lab that brings in more than 200 researchers from around the country.

 They’re all sharing research and discussing how algae blooms impact their respective communities.

Because the same strain of algae can impact different regions in different ways.

Experts say a strain called ‘Karenia Brevis’ can create neuro-toxic shellfish poisoning.

Officials say along the Gulf of Mexico, there are no cases of people dying from eating the poisoned shellfish

 “In contrast,” said Kirkpatrick. “The species that hits the Gulf of Maine residents is extremely toxic and if you eat contaminated shellfish from the Gulf of Maine, there have been deaths.”

Dr. Raphael Kudela from the University of California, Santa Cruz has done extensive research on the effects of algae blooms on the west coast.

And he’s seen some terrible things, like algae blooms that can eat holes in human brains.

But he says the same strain in the Gulf of Mexico has no such impact.

So he says by coming together and sharing information, these scientists can discover ways to better protect the environment not only here, but around the country.

Kudela said, “Instead of just gloom and doom all the time, we'd really like to help them move to predictive systems, to helping them be able to get rid of the toxins in the first place, to figuring out why they're there."

They’re also discussing new strains of algae blooms that have popped up around the country.

Dr. Kirkpatrick said, "Part of the scientific method is sharing our knowledge with each other and then perhaps another investigator taking it to the next step to see if this works in our backyard."

After all, there may be procedures that were tested in California that could help prevent algae blooms in Maine.

“Part of the scientific method is sharing our knowledge with each other and then perhaps another investigator taking it to the next step to see if this works in our backyard,” said Kirkpatrick.

And one of the best ways to figure that out is to put all the experts together into one room.


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