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FGCU planning to use ultrasonic buoy devices to help control algal blooms

A grant from the state provided to Florida Gulf Coast University will help control harmful algal blooms that will soon come to our backyard.

They look like tiny houses but the MPC-Buoy device runs on solar power and will help control algal blooms.

“It’s a big grant. It sounds awesome because it’s a million-dollar grant,” said Dr. Bill Mitsch, Director, FGCU’s Everglades Wetland Research Park.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection awarded FGCU’s Everglades Wetland Research Park in Naples the grant to run a pilot experiment. Director Bill Mitsch says the goal is to control algae.

“Half of that money initially goes to pay for these devices. They’re like a buoy that floats in the water,” Mitsch said.

They work by allowing devices to send sonic waves, which ripple in the water to send algae down to the bottom of the water body. It acts as a way to disrupt the algae.

“So there are no chemicals involved in this, this is a non-chemical way of sort of disrupting blue-green algae,” Mitsch said.

While it doesn’t stop algae before it blooms, the device would manage it.

“The company we’re working with has also figured out a way to program the sonic signals for specific algae. They’re really getting sophisticated with this kind of stuff,” Mitsch said.

But what goes down could come up again.

“You’re right, that’s the issue when we do cosmetics on a lake in general. However we kill the algae or remove it, it’ll come back to haunt you some time, sure,” Mitsch said,

Which means researchers keep the big picture in mind.

“80 percent of the research we’re doing in our lab is exactly that. It’s trying to figure out how to create a landscape that’s not super-saturated with nutrients,” Mitsch said.

Doctor Mitsch also says if this experiment successfully cuts down algal blooms, they could scale it up to a larger size to tackle bigger problems, like toxic releases from lake Okeechobee.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Lincoln Saunders
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