FGCU’s newest research project: Monitoring red tide while helping marine life

Researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University are monitoring red tide while helping marine life.

To think outside the box, sometimes you have to go in the box. Some huge concrete boxes will soon help FGCU researchers study red tide in Southwest Florida while also creating an artificial reef.

“The artificial reef is going to be a series of box culverts, these big concrete boxes, basically, that we’ll be putting about eight miles offshore of Wiggins Pass,” said Michael Parsons, Ph.D., a professor at The Water School at FGCU.

Once in the water, the boxes will create a reef for marine life.

“This will give more habitat, more places for fish, other marine life to live, and that can help them survive any of these water impacts or red tide impacts that we see,” Parsons said.

For scientists, it will help them run red tide experiments.

“We’ll have a, you know, a set place where we can always go back to the same place, put sensors out there that can measure things like water temperature, oxygen levels, salinity, so on and so forth, every five minutes.”

While it will help in red tide research, researchers at Vester Field Station hope will also create opportunities for students and the public.

“The other thing we want to do with this artificial reef is basically create opportunities for the public to dive and snorkel on it,” Parsons said.

“I think it’s going to be really good for that and presenting opportunities for our engineering students. We’re hoping to get some artwork out there. So getting the art students involved, get some of the entrepreneurial students coming up with business plans.”

FGCU has to raise $300,000 for the project. Once that’s done, it will put out a bid for marine construction companies. The goal is to put the box culverts in the water sometime this fall.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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