Mote Marine Laboratory is pleased to welcome Dr. Cynthia Heil as Director of its new Red Tide Institute, which focuses on studying and testing Florida red tide mitigation and control technologies to improve quality of life for coastal communities affected by these challenging harmful algal blooms (HABs)

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Mote Marine Laboratory is pleased to welcome Dr. Cynthia Heil as Director of its new Red Tide Institute, which focuses on studying and testing Florida red tide mitigation and control technologies to improve quality of life for coastal communities affected by these challenging harmful algal blooms (HABs).

The Red Tide Institute at Mote Marine Laboratory was established in October 2018 thanks to a $1-million philanthropic investment from its Founding Donor, the Andrew and Judith Economos Charitable Foundation. Mote — an independent, nonprofit marine science institution — has conducted research, monitoring and public outreach on the Florida red tide alga (Karenia brevis) together with multiple partners for decades, particularly through a cooperative program with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The Red Tide Institute at Mote will apply the significant knowledge gained on the ecological dynamics of red tide blooms to develop and test innovative, science-based technologies for attacking red tide blooms and reducing their impacts to the environment, economy and quality of life in local communities.

Dr. Heil will join Mote on Jan. 1, 2019, as Senior Scientist for the HAB Mitigation Research Program and Director of the Red Tide Institute at Mote, applying her decades of laboratory and field experience studying K. brevis and other species of harmful algae. She comes to Mote from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine, where she developed an independent research program focused on water quality, harmful algal blooms and ecosystem management. By accepting this new position, she will renew her long-term focus on K. brevis research in Florida, where she previously served as Senior Research Scientist & Administrator and Harmful Algal Bloom Group Leader for FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and led earlier algal bloom research at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science (USF).

Heil’s new HAB Mitigation Research Program will complement five ongoing and diverse Mote research programs working on Florida red tide. She also brings new expertise in mitigating a major Florida red tide impact: airborne toxins that cause respiratory irritation in humans. Working with both K. brevis and the freshwater cyanobacteria Microcystis, Heil and a collaborator at Bigelow are investigating substances that alter water surface tension and bubble formation with the goal reducing algal toxins entering the air.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the world-class Mote scientists on Karenia research again,” Heil said. “Through Mote’s new Red Tide Institute, I hope we can begin finding practical solutions to alleviate the impacts of Florida red tide and to safeguard human health and our marine environment.”

While the list of mitigation options to be tested by the Institute is still being considered, participating scientists have already begun to identify several promising mitigation technologies for preliminary laboratory testing prior to  being considered for controlled, pilot-scale, field testing. Mote scientists are also examining which approaches have been used by others around the world and how these might be adapted for the Gulf’s red tide.

“We cannot imagine a better choice for leadership of our new Red Tide Institute,” said Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby. “Dr. Heil is internationally renowned in the field of harmful algal bloom science, and her landmark contributions to the peer-reviewed research, including studies co-authored with our other world-class Mote scientists over the years, have helped the field advance to where it is today. Now we are launching the Red Tide Institute at Mote, armed with the knowledge, the experience, and the philanthropic support to focus on developing, testing and deploying mitigation and control technologies much more systematically, strategically and comprehensively than ever before.”

The Red Tide Institute at Mote will be a hub of intensive, innovative research and development focused exclusively on advancing promising technologies for controlling and mitigating red tide impacts toward practical application. The Institute will also leverage other red tide-related research by Mote and its partners at FWC and other organizations from Florida and around the world.

  • Mote is actively seeking additional philanthropic support to expand and enhance the research capacity of its Red Tide Institute and leverage the generous support of its Founding Donor, the Andrew and Judith Economos Charitable Foundation. Those interested can contact Mote’s Development team at 941-388-4441, ext. 309.

Free Red Tide Forum in Boca Grande this Friday

Water color observed from the air during the 2018 red tide bloom along southwest Florida. Credit: Dr. Vincent Lovko / Mote Marine Laboratory
Learn about Florida red tide blooms — including the challenging bloom of 2017-2018 — during a Boca Grande Red Tide Forum featuring scientists, university professors and wildlife rehabilitators. This forum is co-hosted by Mote Marine Laboratory and Barrier Island Parks Society. Event details:

  • November 16, 2018 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium
  • Speakers from Mote, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), University of South Florida (USF) and Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP)
  • Light bites and wine in the Center’s Woman’s Club room following the forum
  • Free and open to the public
  • More details here

Sunday: Circus by the Sea

Join Mote Marine Laboratory and The Circus Arts Conservatory for an exciting collaboration celebrating the arts and culture of Sarasota. Watch performances by Sailor Circus students surrounded by underwater wonders. Event details:

  • 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018
  • Performance times are 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.
  • Each performance is 20 minutes.
  • Mingle with performers before and after performances.
  • This event is free with paid admission to Mote Aquarium.
  • More details here

Islamorada Ocean Fest is less than a month away

Get ready to celebrate coral reefs at Mote’s Islamorada Ocean Fest, a family-friendly event full of fun, crafts, games, music, food and shopping, showcasing Florida’s treasured marine environment while raising funds for coral reef research and restoration. Event details:

  • 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018
  • Founders Park in Islamorada
  • Reduce plastic waste and bring a reusable water bottle to fill at the event’s free water refill stations.
  • More details here

Young conservationists: Come together at summit and film festival

Students will have the opportunity to connect with marine scientists and conservationists during the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit. Photo: Youth Ocean Conservation Summit.
Young people who care about ocean conservation can find inspiration, empowerment and good company at two upcoming events:

  • 6 p.m. Nov. 30 at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota: The free Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival will feature “Sea of Hope,” in which Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle and a team including young environmentalists travel to America’s ocean hotspots. All ages welcome. RSVP required.
  • 8:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at Mote in Sarasota: The Youth Ocean Conservation Summit empowers young people to launch ocean conservation projects and network with marine conservation professionals. Age 10-22. $14. RSVP required.

Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium celebrated its 60th year as an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization in 2015. Mote’s beginnings date back six decades to the passion of a single researcher, Dr. Eugenie Clark, her partnership with the community and philanthropic support, first of the Vanderbilt family and later of the William R. Mote family.

Today, Mote is based in Sarasota, Fla. with field stations in eastern Sarasota County and the Florida Keys and Mote scientists conduct research on the oceans surrounding all seven of the Earth’s continents.
Mote’s 25 research programs are dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans, with an emphasis on world-class research relevant to the conservation and sustainability of our marine resources. Mote’s vision also includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing this research is Mote Aquarium, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at

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