Mote Marine scientists test products to battle red tide

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Inside a lab at Mote Marine, scientists are testing compounds to battle red tide. 

"We will be able to tell how much toxins and what type of those brevetoxins are," said Mark Leone, an intern with Florida Gulf Coast University. 

They're testing different compounds to reduce and eliminate the toxins. 

"The first rule of mitigation is do no more harm than the bloom has done itself," said Dr.Cynthia Heil, the director of the Mote Red Tide Institute. "We need to be absolutely sure whatever compounds we use are not negatively impacting the system further." 

They're testing just about everything.

"It can be everything from the seaweeds that are out there to things you buy in health food stores to chemical compounds," she said. 

Doctor Heil said killing red tide cells is easy. But even when they're gone, the toxins they release are still lurking. 

That's the tricky part. The toxin is what kills fish, birds and other marine animals, and causes respiratory problems for human. 

"When the cells die they release the toxins and the water becomes much more toxic. You have to come up with a compound to kill the cells and eliminates the toxins too," said Dr. Heil. 

Less than 10% of the compounds they've tested do both. They hope within a year to have a compound ready to test. 

"The ultimate hope is that all of these compounds that we test that prove effective have a use and an application," said Dr.Heil. 

They eventually hope to create an assortment of products that can neutralize the toxins; everything from a spray that can be used outside restaurants to tablets dissolved in water. 

"It would be a tool in the arsenal that they could use to potentially alleviate the impacts," said Dr. Heil.