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NOAA and Partners Monitor Large Red Tide in Gulf of Mexico off Southwest Florida

Published on: 08/14/2014
Research Area(s): Marine Spatial Ecology
Primary Contact(s): quay.dortch@noaa.gov

A large harmful algal bloom (HAB) of the Florida red tide organism Karenia brevisremains offshore ofFlorida’s southwest coastal counties, causing growing concern among Florida wildlife managers and public health officials. Depending on the winds and currents, the HAB could possibly reach some of Florida’s most popular tourist beaches within a week. The bloom caused an on-going fish kill, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Fish Kill Hotline receiving reports of thousands of dead and moribund benthic reef fish.

Mote Marine Laboratory and University of South Florida deployed their two underwater robots, Waldo and Bass, on Friday, Aug. 1 to survey the offshore red tide bloom. (Photo: Mote Marine Laboratory)

Mote Marine Laboratory and University of South Florida deployed their two underwater robots, Waldo and Bass, on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, to survey the offshore red tide bloom. (Photo: Mote Marine Laboratory)

Underwater robotic gliders from the University of South Florida (USF) and Mote Marine Laboratory (MML) have been mapping the water conditions and following the bloom’s progress in real time. As of August 12, 2014, MML’s glider ‘Waldo’ had completed its transectswhilethe USF glider ‘Bass’ continued on, approaching the 40 meter depth contour on its way to the coast (on map link, select ‘Gliders, USF-bass’). Researcher hope”Bass” willskirt the bottom of the bloom, a tricky pursuit withno recent satellite images and a changing surface current that redirectedby 180 degrees twice in the last week.

The NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom Operational Forecast System (HAB-OFS ) reports on and verifies blooms in the Gulf of Mexico twice a week. NCCOS funding supports deployment of the USF-Bass glider through the HAB Event Response Program.

For more information, contact Quay.Dortch@noaa.gov.

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