FGCU researchers support clay to mitigate red tide blooms

Scientists are gearing up to fight red tide with clay.

It’s a strategy used all over the world, but is considered controversial in the United States.

But for residents in Southwest Florida, many are ready to try something different.

Jim Visone lives in Fort Myers and says that the thousands of dead fish washing ashore kept him away from the water all summer.

“Some people couldn’t even breathe,” he said.

In an effort to clean up red tide issues in the future, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wants to test out the use of clay to mitigate red tide blooms.

Dr. Mike Parsons, a professor of Marine Science at Florida Gulf Coast University studying red tide. Photo via WINK News.
Dr. Mike Parsons, a professor of Marine Science at FGCU studying red tide. Photo via WINK News.

The idea is to use a special type of clay mineral that would be sprayed on the water, bond with the bloom toxins and drag them down to the sea floor.

Dr. Mike Parsons, who is researching red tide at Florida Gulf Coast University, stands behind the idea.

“If you can remove the red tide cells out of the water column that will reduce or even eliminate some of the respiratory concerns people have on the beach,” he said.

It’s been tested in Florida in the past, and other parts of the world are currently using the clay method because¬†questions linger about its affect on the environment.

“It’s already down there when things are dying and sinking to the bottom,” Parsons said. “But that’s something we have to look at more carefully because we’re just putting it somewhere differently and we have to make sure that’s not a problem.”

FGCU isn’t leading the project but researchers there are having a conference call to discuss red tide and clay later this week.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
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