SARASOTA, Fla.- A huge red tide bloom is lingering in the Gulf of Mexico. Right now, it's north of Tampa and moving south. So will it bring the fish kills and breathing problems to Southwest Florida? WINK News traveled to Mote Marine in Sarasota to get a look at the underwater tool giving scientists a new way to track the algae bloom.
"If it hangs together than it will move with the water and we all might see it, but we can't say," said Dr. Kellie Dixon with Mote Marine.
Biologist have their eyes on a massive red tide bloom lurking in the water 40 miles off Pasco and Hernando counties.
"This one is a visible bloom in the water. The people who are collecting samples can see it, feel a little tickle in their throat, that kind of thing," said Dr. Dixon.
Here's what we know: Satellite images show possible red tide is both on the surface and beneath the water. The bloom is making it's way south and southeast, traveling at a slow speed, but, does that mean it will survive a journey to Southwest Florida?
"It could take a while to get there at this rate."
Two robots, Waldo and Bass, along with a crew of biologist have been deployed to find out what the bloom is doing.
"Someone has to sit there and babysit him, hold his hand and have him phone home and see what he's producing."
So where's Waldo? And where's Bass?
"Ding, ding, uh! That's Waldo phoning home!"
Since Friday, the robots have been canvasing the water in an up and down motion taking samples to confirm and learn more about this bloom.
"You can say I don't want to talk to you for 12 hours, go do your thing, or you can say I want to know what you found out in an hour."
Dr. Kellie Dixon says Waldo was used on Sanibel last year when Southwest Florida had it's last red tide bloom.
"This area is much larger than what we saw last year on Sanibel."
Biologist will know more about this bloom when they pull Waldo and Bass out of the water, that will be done later this week or early next week.