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Local fishermen collect water samples off Boca Grande to test for red tide

Posted at 7:00 PM, Nov 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-01 19:00:35-04

PINE ISLAND, Fla. -- Local fishermen collected samples at three different locations offshore of Boca Grande Friday morning to find out if red tide is present right now through a technology called HABscope.

Florida Commercial Watermen’s Conservation tests regularly to provide information to scientists to better understand the quality of our water with or without red tide present.

“The sooner we get an understanding of how this organism works and forecasting, the better off we will be,” said Captain Eric Schmidt, Fort Myers.

The non-profit launched 15 months ago when they saw a need for sampling to be done year round and not just when there’s a bad bloom in the water. Right now they have four testing units that fisherman grab samples with every couple of weeks.

“To create a real time forecast where folks can go online and see which beaches have impact from respiratory irritation from red tide and which ones don’t and make decision on where to visit the coast,” said Grant Craig, Program Coordinator, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System.

When Karenia Brevis is present this is what the red tide cells move around in sprials, the HABscope uses facial recognition to find those cells.

“When we have bad water, we have a bad economy, so understanding these issues is extremely important," said Captain Casey Streeter, Owner, Island Market Seafood.

Captain Streeter goes out regularly to test and says until recently this season has been smooth sailing, “we haven’t seen any impact on local fisheries as of yet, so hopefully this red tide will come and go.”

From the samples taken friday offshore of boca grande there were varying levels of the organism that causes red tide. Here's the link to the map: