No impacts from a red tide bloom that remains offshore of Florida’s Gulf Coast were detected alongshore as of Aug. 13, according to a team of scientists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Mote Marine Laboratory and the University of South Florida.
The last clear satellite images, taken Aug. 8, showed a patchy bloom up to 60 miles wide and 90 miles long that’s at least 20 miles offshore between Dixie and northern Pinellas counties.
Recent forecasts by the USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides show slow south-southeast movement of the surface bloom parallel to the coastline and slow southeast movement of deep waters.
Mote dispatched its underwater robot, “Waldo,” which returned yesterday, to monitor conditions along the eastern edge of the bloom.
Waldo monitored conditions such as water temperature, salinity and depth and used a red tide detector called an optical phytoplankton discriminator or BreveBuster developed at Mote to support short-term red tide forecasting by USF and FWC.
Basic data was sent to Mote during the mission via Waldo’s satellite transmitter, and more detailed analyses will be carried out at Mote to understand what other types of microscopic algae were present along with the red tide algae.
The Mote team collected water samples and data including temperature, depth, salinity and chlorophyll at multiple locations between the endpoint of Waldo’s mission and Mote’s main lab on City Island. Samples will be analyzed in the coming days to count any red tide algae cells.
USF robot “Bass” continues to patrol along the eastern edge of the bloom.
The next update, including coastal water sampling results from this week, will be available Aug. 15, at myfwc.com/redtidestatus.
Contact Robin Hartill at email@example.com.