FGCU, Mote Marine team up to study impact of decaying fish on red tide

Florida Gulf Coast University and Mote Marine Laboratory are studying the impact of fish kills on red tide and whether it’s fueling more outbreaks.

Researchers first have to compost dead fish for the study to mimic the effect of a fish kill.

Adam Catasus is FGCU’s Vester Field Station Education and Research Coordinator. He explained, “Fish decompose; they release nutrients. Do those nutrients get, are those nutrients bioavailable? And then if they are available, can red tide and those cells use them?”

Another question. Can researchers break down dead fish and toxins?

Mark Heston, project manager with Bio-Safe Technologies, helps FGCU and Mote Marine Lab run the experiment, providing a compound that helps decompose the fish.

Heston explains that it “breaks down the dead fish. We’re going to get rid of the dangerous brevetoxins to where we can actually use this for fertilizers or other things.”

Once they’re done with the fish, researchers hope to repurpose them as compost.

“We’re trying to come up with a way that’s both helpful, ecologically, and also, possibly economically,” Catasus added. But they also have to make sure it’s safe to reuse.

The version of this study will run for six weeks. From there, researchers will analyze samples.

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