St. Pete scientists ramp up red tide research

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When it comes to fighting the war against red tide, tone St. Petersburg laboratory is considered to be the front-lines.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC) opened up their labs to be toured by reporters Wednesday morning.

FOX 13 got a look at the room where scientists study the concentration of red tide cells in different water samples.

FWC's Kate Hubbard says as technology improves so does their ability to alert and prepare communities for what's to come.

“From five years ago, even to now, we are using a lot more automated technology that we can use in the field,” Hubbard said. “So rather than having to bring a sample back in the lab we can process a sample in the field and get results quickly."

She says the improved speed of data, is allowing the science to expand more rapidly. She hopes someday they will be able to stop the spread of red tide entirely.

"The more we know about what causes red tide, what causes it to persist, the better we are in understanding how to mitigate it," Hubbard said.

Business owners say mitigation would be ideal. Bruno Falkenstien runs the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant on Pass-a-Grille Beach. He says revenue at his restaurant is down 80 percent.

 “It would be a good thing if they can control it,” Falkenstien said. “We've cut our staff hours down, everybody's working about twenty hours a week, we've tried to balance it to where at least they're getting an income."

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott gave Pinellas County an additional $2 million to help clean dead fish from the beaches and waterways.