SARASOTA — Toxic red tide algae held all Southwest Florida in a choke hold in 2018.

Since then, a concerted research effort for learning the causes of the toxic algae and how to mitigate its threat to sea life has been underway.

As part of the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative, the nonprofit Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced a variety of research efforts that are exploring ways to minimize the impacts of the Karenia brevis, red tide algae.

“The projects selected for this round are made up of extremely diverse and innovative technologies, something that is really exciting for us at Mote and impactful for the initiative,” Mote CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby stated in a press release Monday.

“We know that there will be no one single silver bullet for mitigating red tide and its effects, so we are supporting developing technologies and methodologies that range from physical to chemical controls, early prevention to bloom treatment, projects led by universities, independent nonprofits like Mote, and for-profit businesses,” Crosby said.

“We know that when we bring in the best and brightest from a variety of sectors, we’re more likely to find solutions, and that’s what makes the Initiative such an exciting endeavor.”

More than 20 current research projects are part of the ongoing red tide research effort that includes 12 different partnering institutions and organizations. Mote’s research facility infrastructure continues to expand to accommodate red tide research projects and a safe venue to test mitigation technologies and methods in a controlled setting.

One research project is described as “Pushing (Red Tide) Over the Edge with Beer Derived Flavonoids.” Researchers will test natural compounds from “brewer’s spent grain” — a readily available byproduct of beer breweries — for their potential to fight red tide and degrade its brevetoxins. Scientists know that a related product, barley straw, produces compounds that can fight certain algal blooms as the straw decomposes over time.

The research projects are being funded with state, peer- reviewed, grants.

A panel of scientists from eight different agencies and institutions reviewed grant proposals. The “strongest” and most promising proposals are then presented to the Red Tide Initiative Technical Advisory Council.

So far, the Initiative has received approximately 60 research proposals from state, national, and international scientists. Sixteen Mote and partner-led projects will be awarded over $2.1 million in grants.

To learn more about the red tide and other research efforts, visit mote.org/research.


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