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

Mote Study Explores Use of Filter Feeders to Combat Red Tide

Mote Marine Laboratory
A single-cell of the algae species Karenia brevis, which causes Florida red tide.

A persistent red tide bloom has been plaguing Southwest Florida’s Gulf coast since the fall of 2017, with reports of fish kills and beachgoers experiencing respiratory irritation from exposure to the toxic algae.  To date, there has been no proven way to eliminate red tide, particularly in large areas, without causing harm to the natural ecosystem. 

Now, however, scientists with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota are leading an effort to help reduce the impact of red tide on coastal communities by utilizing filter-feeding organisms to sift out the naturally occurring organism responsible for red tide, Karenia brevis, and the toxins it produces, from the water.

Mote staff scientist and Environmental Health Program Manager Tracy Fanara, Ph.D., joins us for a closer look at the project and its potential for combating red tide in the future.