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Date of Issue: November 22, 2007

Sandscript

Some good news regarding red tide, for a change

Red tide forecasts may be made easier, thanks to a group of regional folks.

According to news reports, the University of South Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute have established the Center for Prediction of Red Tides at the University’s College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg. The center will develop, test and implement models to forecast Florida red tide conditions.

According to the reports, “A five-year, $1.25 million contract from FWRI will help finance the center that will assist the state’s red tide monitoring program. USF is matching the state’s contribution with a $400,000 computer cluster along with staff support for the center.”

The report continues with what we all know all too well: “Florida red tides are natural phenomena caused by a microscopic organism, Karenia brevis. which produces a toxin that can kill fish, birds and marine mammals, such as dolphins and manatees. Also, it can cause respiratory problems in people.”

“CPR will combine information from multiple sources including FWRI red tide monitoring data; USF water circulation, temperature, salinity and other information; satellite imagery; and models to develop forecasting capabilities for red tide conditions and impacts,” according to the report.

First up is water circulation modeling, combined with the ongoing weekly red tide monitoring reports.

"For the first time, the Center for Prediction of Red Tides will pull together biological, chemical and physical scientific expertise and couple it with advanced computing power to model factors contributing to red tide formation across all appropriate spatial scales,” said Gil McRae, FWRI director.

The group’s long-term goal “is to create a routine capability to predict Florida red tides and their potential impacts. In the future, biological models that address factors such as bloom growth, when coupled with the physical models and supported by additional observations, will improve the predictability of bloom evolution from beginning to end.”

 

Sandscript factoid

According to biologists at FMRI, “Water samples collected offshore this week, 7 to 25 miles west of Collier County, detected Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organism, at concentrations ranging from not present to very low. Alongshore samples collected between Pinellas and Collier counties contained no K. brevis.”

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