FGCU research at Lake Okeechobee could help protect against algal blooms in SWFL

Published: February 3, 2022 4:52 PM EST
Updated: February 3, 2022 5:11 PM EST

Samples taken on the other side of the state could help solve the algae problem in places like Cape Coral and other parts of Southwest Florida.

On a breezy Florida winter day in Pahokee, Benjamin Marics, a research laboratory coordinator with FGCU, is helping to turn the tide on water quality research.

“This is a project regarding harmful algal blooms and a potential way that we might be able to prevent them from occurring or combat them if they do start to happen,” said Marics. “I take samples to do nutrient analysis. I do cell counts, and we also look at cyanotoxins.”

All of this while making sure nanobubble generators help combat blue-green algae blooms.

The work doesn’t stop out here, though. Marics works with Doctor Barry Rosen, a professor with The Water School at FGCU, in a lab where they will look at samples and see if this tech could help other communities, perhaps in Southwest Florida.

Rosen said, “well, this technology would work really well in a more confined canal system. So, in other words, the dead-end canals in Cape Coral. Places like that.”

The very places that saw blue-green algae build-up and leave a stench in 2018.

“It all ties into these harmful algal blooms, how these relationships between nutrients, temperature, light nanobubbles, it all ties together and hopefully it’ll be just highly applicable in any of those areas,” said Marics.

Water sampling will wrap up in March, but researchers will have to analyze the data to see if any trends will help them better understand our waterways.