Researchers look to find solution to red tide

Scientists at Mote Marine Lab said they’ve been working on a way to clear out red tide and added they finally found a solution.

WINK News got a first-hand look inside the lab.

“The big question is does excess nutrients and fertilizers that run off and sewage or runoff from lawns enhance it?” asked Richard H. Pierce, vice president of research and senior scientist.

Pierce said he’s feverishly working with his team at the Mote Aquarium to find out what fuels red tide.

“It can thrive on very little nutrient but it can thrive on all types of nutrients so its quite adapted to the Florida Gulf coast,” Pierce said.

In the lab, Pierce said they’re growing their own red tide blooms in fish tanks and studying how long those toxins stay in the water.

“Understanding the ecology and the bloom dynamics and that helps us understand when a bloom might start and when it might end and how it interacts,” Pierce said.

But it’s the testing they’re doing outside the lab that might be the answer for clean water.

Pierce said his team designed an ozone system that kills those red tide cells.

“We use ozone to get rid of the red tide in water that we bring into our marine animal hospital and sea turtle hospital and we looked at that concept and though why cant we do that in localized areas,” Pierce said.

He said it’s a patented machine that brings in toxin-infested water and injects it with ozone, then pumps out the clean water. He added it’s completely safe.

“It destroys the red tide organism it destroys the toxin and re-oxygenates the water,” Pierce said.

Their results show it can kill all the red tide cells in 150 gallons of water every single minute.

“We can restore it back to natural conditions.”

Pierce said it passed their “in-house” teases, and once they get the proper permits, they’ll start using that system in canals in Boca Grande.

He said they plan on having two systems out there soon.

Reporter:Kelsey Kushner
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