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State Partners With Red Tide Experts To Combat Toxic Blooms

Jessica Meszaros
WUSF Public Media
In August, thousands of fish killed by red tide poisoning washed onto Anna Maria Island in Manatee County.

State wildlife officials reported this past Friday that elevated levels of the organism Karenia brevis are persisting along Florida's gulf coast, which is creating toxic red tide algae blooms from Pinellas County down to Collier County.

Gov. Rick Scott announced last week that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is partnering with "world-renowned red tide experts" to test ways of mitigating toxic red tide algae blooms in the gulf.

A press release says the FWC is going to work with the University of South Florida, Mote Marine Laboratory, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

They're going to focus on using clay to curb the effects of red tide.

Algal bloom researcher Richard Stumpf with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said clay may work in a small area, but he said it's not practical to try this on such a large scale.

"That would work well if you're in maybe a canal or a bayou, but the scale of the bloom-- I mean we're talking many square miles. There's no way we can put enough clay in to have an impact in the Gulf of Mexico," he said.

Click the play button below to hear more about red tide's history, current status and possible solutions. 

Since 2012, I’ve been a voice on public radio stations across Florida - in Miami, Fort Myers, and now Tampa.
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