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Date of Issue: October 19, 2006

$4.7 million earmarked for red tide research

Data gaps may start to be filled on red tide thanks to a five-year-long, $4.73 million federal grant.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg is the recipient of the grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

"This grant will enable FWRI to assemble a diverse team of scientists focused on identifying nutrient sources, measuring the significance of those sources and identifying regulatory alternatives. With more than 125 combined years of Florida red tide experience, this unique team is the first of its kind to focus on red tide nutrient questions in Florida," said Gil McRae, FWRI director.

"Studies will focus on the causes of red tide and determine how different nutrients sources affect all stages of blooms. The NOAA grant will supplement funds committed by the state of Florida for red tide research and monitoring, and will enable the purchase of cutting-edge technologies such as remote water-quality detectors with 24-hour-a-day Web reporting capabilities," according to the institute.

"The Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, is a naturally occurring microscopic alga that produces a toxin that can kill marine life and affect people," the institute added. "Red tide has been documented along the coast of Florida since the 1840s. Fish kills around Tampa Bay, mentioned in the logs of Spanish explorers, were likely due to red tides."