Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Hobe Sound on Monday and announced the creation of a special task force to study the concerning issue of blue-green algae.
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The Governor spoke at Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, where he said five expert researchers will serve on the task force.
Among those scientists is Dr. Michael Parsons, a professor of marine science at Florida Gulf Coast University and director of the Coastal Watershed Institute and Vester Field Station.
“I am honored to represent not only FGCU, but Southwest Florida in general, on the Blue-Green Algae Task Force,” said Parsons. “These blooms have been of great concern locally, and more action needs to be taken to manage these harmful algal-bloom events. I look forward to serving so that we can improve our response and management actions when these bloom events return.”
"It's one thing to go and get the resources, but I want to make sure when we're applying those, we're applying those in the best possible way, and we're doing what we can to effectively deal with the nutrients, the algae, the red tide," said Gov. DeSantis.
The task force will prioritize projects to reduce nutrients in our waterways. Those nutrients can contribute to harmful algae blooms and toxic red tide.
Back in January, the Governor laid out his $625 million environmental budget, which includes millions to study the effects of blue-green algae and red tide.
The other four members of the task force include:
Dr. Wendy Graham, the Carl S. Swisher Eminent Scholar in Water Resources in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Director of the Water Institute at the University of Florida. Dr. Graham holds a B.S. in environmental engineering from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Evelyn Gaiser, who holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Kent State University, a master's in animal ecology from Iowa State University and a doctorate in ecology from the University of Georgia. Research in Dr. Gaiser's lab has informed the progress of Everglades restoration and is integrated into the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program, which she has led since 2007.
Dr. James Sullivan, executive director of FAU's Harbor Branch, is an expert on marine ecosystem health. He earned his master's and doctorate degrees in biological oceanography with specializations in phytoplankton physiology and ecology, as well as bio-optics and biophysics, from the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.
Dr. Valerie Paul, who has served as director of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Florida, since 2002. She received her B.A. from the University of California San Diego with majors in Biology and in Chemical Ecology and her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.