PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Mote Scientists Test New Tech to Fight Red Tide in Boca Grande

Mote Marine Laboratory
Dr. Tracy Fanara of Mote Marine Laboratory holds up a vial containing a water sample.

Marine life has all been wiped out in the waters surrounding Gasparilla Island. 

The inlet straddles Charlotte and Lee counties, but the residential part — including Boca Grande — falls entirely under Lee, which has hauled more than 2.8 million pounds of dead fish from its beaches and waterways in the first two weeks of August alone.

But, hope may be found for Boca Grande residents in Mote Marine Laboratory, which has developed a method for mitigating the elevated concentrations of toxic Karenia brevis algae — the stuff that's causing the deadly red tide.

This method utilizes ozone to destroy the algae and its toxins —all without releasing ozone into the environment and while restoring oxygen to the often-asphyxiated red tide areas.

Mote is field testing this new tech at the end of a canal in Boca Grande.

That's the one forseeable downside to this method: it's designed for fixed areas with low tidal flow — making dead-end canals, where red tide algae and the subsequent dead fish can collect, the perfect test subject.