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MOTE Marine Laboratory working with nearly dozen ideas that are promising to Combat Red Tide

Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 15, 2023

SARASOTA, Fla. — As fish continue to wash up on Southwest Florida’s beaches and red tide toxins in the air cause respiratory irritation, Fox 4 Meteorologist Andrew Shipley investigated the ways to address Red Tide, so we don’t have to repeat this again. That research is being done in Sarasota at the MOTE Marine Laboratory. They have looked at more than 200 different methods to combat red tide over the last 3 years.

“In science you do fail a lot. That is part of the process so. Again, looking at maybe 200, 250 different compounds, tools, and technologies, we have about dozen that are looking promising,” said Kevin Claridge is Associate Vice President for Sponsored Research and Coastal Policy Programs at MOTE.

And those different methods range from tools and devices that have a physical impact, such a water treatment process, while others are similar to algicides used today on such algae like blue green algae we find in our canals.

Claridge says that the biggest thing is to find methods that have minimal impacts on the rest of the environment.

“It's kind of like working in your garage, of tinkering and trying to find the chemistry, the physical piece of it, the science behind it and also how do you ramp that up. What is the engineering side of that? How do you get that into something you could put into a sprayer or more than a beaker or bucket full. Some of this stuff you might need rail cars full of things to eventually get to that size,” said Claridge.

But while some of these things might be a few years away, other methods could be months away from usage.

“There are options in combination with MOTE with many businesses, academic institutions, and the state of Florida to mitigate, at least initially in the coming year, the near shore impacts,” said Claridge. “Again, we are optimistic and hopeful that we can continue to scale that then up to the next stage.”

One method not so far away is a semi sized mobile water treatment system to be used in canals.

“Think of a semi-trailer sized water treatment process, its mobile which is an important part, to move where the red tide is,” said Claridge.

And while MOTE is looking mostly at near shore solutions now, they are also looking into possible solutions done the line for use in the open ocean.

“How do you start to move this to say a larger sprayer, a large deployment, maybe like an underwater glider or people even talk of the barge or crop duster eventually offshore in strategic areas where a bloom may be coming in,” said Claridge.

While Red Tide is never fully going to go away, Claridge and his colleagues hope that this research they are doing will help us better tolerate the environment we love and live in Florida.