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FGCU researchers study impacts of decaying fish on development of red tide

Southwest Florida is bracing for what could impact the economy further during the pandemic. Red tide impacts beaches and tourism, so a new experiment is in the works at FGCU about how to control the growth of the algae blooms

FGCU researchers are studying the impact decaying fish in the water have on the development of red tide.

Vivid memories of dead fish on our shorelines in 2018 still haunt captain Gene Luciano of Dalis Fishing Charters and many others.

“That particular red tide lingered and lingered and lingered,” Luciano said. “We lost customers because of the red tide … A lot of people didn’t want to go; a lot of people didn’t want to eat the fish.”

That created a ripple effect for hotels, restaurants and other businesses and leaving a stink.

“The fish float to the surface; they start decaying; they release nutrients,” Luciano said.

And those nutrients feed red tide, so FGCU researchers are studying how big the impacts from decaying fish actually are to promoting blooms in the water.

“It’s a feasibility study,” said Mike Parson, an FGCU professor of marine science. “Is it worth going out there and removing decaying fish?”

By placing dead fish in bins of water, the researchers are measuring nutrients and collecting data.

Parsons hopes to get to those answers.

”If we can remove it while they’re floating out on the water, then, you don’t have to worry about the fish coming up on the beach,” Parsons explained.

That can potentially lessen the impact on an economy struggling to recover.

”I think it’s just interesting to know because it’s such a prevalent issue out here,” Parsons said.

“It’s been a tough couple years between Hurricane Irma, the red tide, now this, this corona thing,” Luciano said.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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