FGCU researchers monitor oxygen levels in Gulf to measure water quality

Local scientists continue to search for answers to our water quality issues in Southwest Florida. And special tools will allow them to gather information from the water’s deep.

Our crew went out to the Gulf of Mexico with FGCU scientists Wednesday on their research mission off south Fort Myers Beach, as they worked to better understand the state of our water quality.

“We came out to get some data on some oxygen probes that we’ve got,” said Bob Wasno, the resource coordinator for FGCU Vester Marine Lab. “In addition, we’ve got some plates that collect different types of algae.”

Adam Catasus, an FGCU research scientist, said the oxygen probes are an effective tool for this kind of research.

“It’s an easy way of getting data of finding these red flags,” Catasus said. “Being like the oxygen, it’s low, or there’s none. There’s something going on. We should look more into this.”

And the FGCU scientists hope the research holds answers to water quality issues like red tide.

“So when you have those water masses moving in from offshore, they tend to be a little bit different, a little bit colder,” said Dr. Mike Parson, FGCU marine science professor. “Maybe they’ll have a different oxygen signature, so on and so forth. So by having these sensors out at these locations, we can see how the water conditions change.”

Those answers play a big part in Southwest Florida living. The crew didn’t spot any fish kills offshore during its mission. The FGCU crew will also look for suitable sites for sensors, as one of the researcher’s goals is to have full sensor sets at three sites.

“Commercially, recreational and charters, they’re not going to be happening if there’s no fish for people to catch,” Catasus said. “No one’s going to be coming here, spending their money, staying on the beaches, staying in this entire region if the water quality is bad.”

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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