SARASOTA, Fla. — As the Tampa Bay area reels from the impacts of the red tide on marine life and the environment, researchers are testing a new method to combat harmful algae blooms.
According to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, scientists are trying to use clay dispersal to eliminate red tide in parts of Sarasota where it has been detected. It’s a strategy they say has been used to control other types of harmful algae.
By mixing clay with seawater and spraying it on the surface of the water, the particles of the mixture sink and combine with red tide cells. The process can kill and bury cells in seabed sediment, depending on the aquarium.
“This is just the first of what we hope will be several upcoming trials of clay flocculation on active flowers in nature,” said Dr. Don Anderson, Senior Scientist at WHOI and Principal Investigator for this project. ‘initiative. “What we learn here will help us better understand how conditions in Florida affect its success and how clay flocculation might be suitable for Karenia brevis blooms, as well as other algae species, here and elsewhere in the world.”
The clay dispersion process is common in drinking water and wastewater treatment. Researchers also hope to find out how much clay is needed and whether it not only kills red tide cells, but also the toxins they release.
On Friday, a Pinellas County spokesperson said 902 tons of marine life had been removed from the county in recent weeks. It’s about 1.8 million pounds.
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