Mote Marine researchers racing against clock to study red tide

Sarasota County

Researchers are racing against the clock to find solutions to this red tide crisis. For Dr. Tracy Fanara, the pressure has been relentless.

“I think that everybody feels a lot of pressure because this is a public health issue,” said Dr. Fanara.

She and her fellow researchers are in the thick of this crisis every day, and she constantly hears from people desperate for answers.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear how affected they are by this naturally occurring phenomenon and I want to find a way to protect them,” said Fanara.

It’s all hands on deck at Mote Marine Lab.

Scientists have been using interns, volunteers, even information from the public to respond to this crisis. 

Researchers are employing a wide variety of tests. They’re studying organisms that can eat red tide. Others are studying water treatment technologies, while fellow scientists are discovering how storms impact red tide. 

They want to find out what’s causing this algae bloom to intensify, and what kind of methods can stop it.

“We can only say what we absolutely know, according to the data. We can’t put the conclusions before the data, we have to answer the questions to the best of our ability with what we know scientifically to be true,” explained Dr. Fanara.

They’re using the latest technology. For example, thanks to a fund from NASA, they’re using cell phone microscopes to quickly study water samples.

“It kind of uses face detection technology,” said Dr. Fanara.

By obtaining a tiny water sample, they can quickly identify whether there’s red tide in the water.

“This will save us a lot of time and make our forecasting more accurate and give us more real time results,” said Dr. Fanara.

The more these scientists learn, the better we’ll be able to fight this crisis and others in the future.

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