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Gliders Map Large Red Tide Bloom in Gulf of Mexico for Rapid Response

NCCOS is supporting the rapid deployment of self-propelled underwater robotic gliders to map an emerging red tide bloom in the Gulf of Mexico. The bloom of Karenia brevis, Florida Red Tide,was detected by anNCCOS-sponsored new modeling toolon July 23 and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC)promptlyissued a public red tide noticealerting the public of the bloomin the northeast Gulf of Mexico about 40 miles offshore of Hernando County.

Slocum glider in water (credit University of South Florida Center for Ocean Technology)

The Slocum glider that is being used to map the red tide bloom (credit University of South Florida Center for Ocean Technology).

Through theNCCOS Event Response Program, twogliders will be deployed in tandem by theUniversity of South Florida College of Marine ScienceandMote Marine Laboratory. Eachglider has different sensors, depth ranges, and mission capabilities, whichwill provide a rapid and comprehensive assessment of bloom boundaries and depth for use in both validating model assessments and refining model predictions on bloom properties and future movements. Glider tracks will be availableon line.

Red tide blooms produce toxins that can contaminate edible shellfish and cause respiratory illness when aerosolized toxins are inhaled near beaches. The economic losses to fisheries and tourism exceed $25millionannuallyin Florida alone, with higher costs if human health issues are considered. NCCOS event response support will provide information to the FWC to improve the state’s response and aid natural resource and public health managers.

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