Only one water sample recently taken throughout Florida showed any signs of red tide.

On July 17, a water sample taken from northern Sarasota Bay, near the New Pass inlet, turned up low counts of the toxic red tide algae — more than 10,000 cells and less than 100,000 cells per liter of water. All other water samples compiled by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission showed no signs of red tide elsewhere in Florida.

That condition, however could prove temporary. How temporary, no one can fully predict.

To better aid and coordinate public information in the wake of a future toxic red tide blooms, the FWC awarded a $92,471 Harmful Algal Bloom grant to the University of Florida Sea Grant program. A second $234,433 grant was awarded to Florida Atlantic University researchers to develop a holographic imaging technology system to improve real-time detection of the presence of red tide.

Florida Sea Grant will develop a statewide, cooperative and scientific communication program to improve public access to accurate red tide information.

“This is an information age,” said Capt. Betty Staugler, who oversees the Sea Grant program in Charlotte County and is identified by the FWC as a “co-principal” for the grant.

A goal, Staugler suggested, will be to identify social and other media outlets that will be best to disseminate accurate information to the public. Surveys and focus groups with various stakeholders could help determine what information is needed and useful to the general public — as well as dispelling inaccurate and disinformation.

To learn more about red tide, visit myfwc.com.

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