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Environment

Florida Red Tide Task Force Seeks Public Safety Info On One Website

Map of current red tide status showing no elevated levels, as of Jan. 14.
FWC website
On Jan. 10, FWC observed red tide organisms in background concentrations, which are normal, offshore of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties. Low concentrations were detected in Collier, and very low offshore of Monroe.

Florida's task force to combat red tide plans to finalize some ideas for the state legislature soon. 

When there's an elevated red tide event causing fish kills and respiratory issues for people along the west coast, Floridians have multiple places online to check the status of their neighboring beaches. There can be conflicting information.

The red tide task force hopes to change that.

The 11-member task force met Monday and is brainstorming an idea for one website for people to find everything they need to know.

Task force member Barbara Kirkpatrick, executive director for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System, said this resource would be important because not all algae blooms are alike.

"There's blue green algae blooms in Florida. There's karenia brevis blooms in Florida. There's harmful algal blooms all around the country and all around the world,” said Kirkpatrick. “So we want to make sure that when people are seeking information about karenia brevis red tides, that they're on the right website, they're getting the right information."

Click here to view the next meeting's agenda.

She said the members have not yet nailed down specifics on how this website will work, but she said it would be a multi-state agency effort.

"Each agency fulfills their mission. For example, Florida Department of Health, gives red tide information regarding health, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research covers their monitoring program and what they're finding in the waters," she said.

Task force members hope to see their 12 suggestions represented on this year's state budget.

The group plans to meet again Thursday, Jan. 23 at 3:30 p.m. at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.