Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Reports Offshore Red Tide, Mote Scientists Gear up to Learn More

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FWC Reports Offshore Red Tide, Mote Scientists Gear up to Learn More

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported last week that a bloom of Florida red tide was confirmed in water samples collected offshore of Hernando County, in the area of a large fish kill. Satellite images suggested the bloom was 80 miles long and 50 miles wide and was 40-90 miles offshore between Dixie and Pasco counties.

This week, scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory plan to learn more about the bloom and the physical conditions surrounding it by conducting a water sampling survey between Sarasota and the southern edge of the bloom.

This effort is part of a cooperative research program between Mote — an independent nonprofit marine lab with decades of experience studying Florida red tide — and FWC — Florida’s wildlife agency responsible for monitoring and studying red tide blooms around the state.

Florida red tide is a higher-than-normal concentration of harmful microscopic algae called Karenia brevis. These red tides are known to form many miles offshore, sometimes causing no impact to humans. In other cases they may be blown inshore and cause respiratory irritation among beachgoers. According to an update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday, July 28, the current bloom is NOT expected to cause respiratory irritation alongshore of southwest Florida through Monday, August 4.

Mote’s upcoming research

Mote scientists plan to sample water Thursday, July 31, offshore of Sarasota, Clearwater and northwest approaching the last known edge of the bloom. Satellite images allow scientists to see algae blooms at the surface, but water samples are required to confirm the species of algae and to document the unique conditions surrounding each bloom.

Each bloom is a complex mix of biology, chemistry and physical conditions, and there is no single way that blooms form. Continued research is critical for understanding the formation and inner workings of blooms.

Thursday, scientists in Mote’s Phytoplankton Ecology Program will document the presence and concentration of K. brevis cells, monitor physical conditions such as temperature, depth and salinity and examine how these characteristics are stratified, or layered from the surface down to depths of up to 100 feet.

Based on results from this trip, Mote’s Ocean Technology Program plans to deploy “Waldo,” an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), to sample for physical conditions and the presence of K. brevis using a red tide detector developed at Mote. The AUV will be deployed as close as possible to the bloom center and will be programmed to perform detailed and repeated surveys from surface to bottom as it progresses to the south. Survey results will provide data from depths not visible in satellite images. Physical data collected can be incorporated into models designed by other institutions to provide short term forecasts of the bloom’s trajectory. Another glider from University of South Florida will likely be deployed simultaneously to increase the region that can be surveyed.

Red tide resources

Publix Supports Marine Science Education at Mote

Hayley Rutger and Aly Busse of Mote receive a grant check from Brian West of Publix on Monday, July 28 at Mote. (Credit Mote Marine Laboratory)
Publix Super Markets Charities presented a $12,500 grant to Mote Marine Laboratory Monday, July 28, for scholarships to help under-served students in the Sarasota area participate in Mote’s informal science education programs.

Grant funds will help K-12 students visit Mote for programs on marine science and coastal ecology. Programs will feature local ecosystems and incorporate current research and conservation, highlighting the world-class science taking place each day at Mote.

Mote has a major focus on educating the next generation of scientific leaders and helping the public become more ocean literate. Every year, Mote programs serve more than 23,000 students and thousands of adults.

Shark Lady Awards Student Scholarship from Women Divers Hall of Fame

Dr. Eugenie Clark (left) and Dr. Anne Giesecke present a Women Divers Hall of Fame scholarship to student Kimberly Fitzpatrick.
Student Kimberly Fitzpatrick was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Women Divers Hall of Fame by one of the organization’s most famous members: “Shark Lady” Dr. Eugenie Clark of Mote Marine Laboratory.

Clark joined fellow member Dr. Anne Giesecke to present the Award to Fitzpatrick on Friday, July 25 at Mote.

The Women Divers Hall of Fame is an international nonprofit professional honors society whose members contribute to wide-ranging fields including science, the arts, exploration, education and much more.

Night of Fish, Fun and Fright

Save the Date: Oct. 17

Buoys and ghouls of all ages are invited to dress up in costume for a Night of Fish, Fun and Fright from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17 at Mote Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway on City Island, Sarasota.

Sail the spooky seas and discover creatures from the deep in a safe and fun trick-or-treating zone and explore “Dr. Frankin-Fish’s Lab of Horrors” (recommended for children 8 and older). Unearth sharks’ teeth in “Coffin Creek,” enjoy deep sea delights in the “Diner of the Dead” and take part in an education program geared toward ages 2-5. Don’t miss our signature underwater pumpkin carving in our spooktacular shark exhibit!
Ticket prices:

Mote’s Oceanic Evening

Save the Date: Oct. 25

Make your reservation today for Mote Marine Laboratory’s signature gala, Oceanic Evening.

This annual black-tie fundraiser for marine science, conservation and education will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive.

Tickets are $300 per person and include a gourmet dinner featuring Mote Farm-Raised Sturgeon and Caviar — local seafood raised sustainably in aquaculture by Mote.

For reservations and sponsorships, contact Stacy Alexander or Erin Knievel at 941-388-4441 or [email protected] or [email protected].

Reaching a Mote Expert

We encourage members of the media to meet in person with Mote experts and, when possible, to join us in the field as we conduct research projects. If you are a member of the media covering marine topics, the best way for you to connect with Mote experts is to contact a member of the Communications staff who can help make these connections happen.
Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization based in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys. Mote has 24 research programs and a variety of initiatives dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans with an emphasis on world-class research relevant to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, healthy habitats and natural resources. Mote’s vision includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing this research is The Aquarium at Mote, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at

Copyright©2014 Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, All rights reserved.


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