Mote Marine Laboratory awarded 5-year funding to study red tide

The work happening at Mote Marine Laboratory's Red Tide Institute could one day be the key to understanding why and how red tide forms and disappears. 

"We've come to realize with red tide, it’s not just a question of studying one facet, you really need to understand the physics, biology and chemistry all at the same time," said the director of Mote's Red Tide Institute, Dr.Cynthia Heil. "Looking at red tides and looking at the factors that regulate red tide, regulate whether we get a big or a little red tide."

Seven investigators from Mote Marine, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the University of South Florida, the University of Maryland, Bigelow Labs, and New York University will work together; work that will see a significant boost thanks to a competitive grant awarded the team by NOAA. 

The grant brings five years of funding with nearly $5 million for research. They'll look at the physics of red tide, nutrient input, and the impacts of extreme weather events like major hurricanes. 

"This type of research is vital because we know these are hugely complex ecological problems and they take a team effort and they take more than one year to study," said Dr. Heil. "By having a five-year grant, it gives us, I hate to say it, five years of blooms. They may be big blooms, they may be small blooms but they give us the range to study the problem. By having all these expertise we can bring to bear and study all the aspects of the bloom too." 

Red tide remains a complex phenomenon to pin down. But the team researching future blooms has one goal in mind. 

"Our ultimate goal is to better predict red tides," said Dr. Heil.