The National Harmful Algal Bloom Committee has elected Barbara Kirkpatrick, a senior scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, as co-chair.
Kirkpatrick, a leading researcher on the effects of red tide on the human respiratory system, will chair the committee alongside Raphael Kudela, a professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz.
The National Harmful Algal Bloom Committee – or NHC – brings together interested parties from the private and public sector to raise awareness of bloom-related issues. Kirkpatrick said algal blooms, like red tide, impact communities they touch on many levels
“The animals in the water and human health as well, and it can impact the aesthetics, as well as people’s livelihoods,” she said.
Harmful algal blooms can close down shellfish fisheries and keep tourists away.
They occur worldwide, in fresh as well as in salt water. Kirkpatrick sees her role as co-chair of the committee as educating the public and raising more dollars for research.
“The funding appears to come and go as the events come and go,” she said.
A red tide Bloom off Florida’s southwest coast that erupted in the winter of 2005 took almost a year to dissipate. Along with hundreds of thousands of fish, many endangered manatees perished. But, since then red tide blooms have been infrequent and short-lived.