So, it's been a while but we're still here! and are still actively monitoring our local reefs.
Just in case you haven't seen the news lately (like every single night) there is a red tide along the southern Gulf Coast of Florida. It has been taking its toll on the fish populations near Boca Grande and Siesta Key. Currently, it is beginning to creep northward towards Pinellas county with background and low concentrations near our dear Clearwater.
Here is an image (under a microscope of course) of the dinoflagellate causing it all...Karenia brevis
Have no fear! Reef Monitoring is on the case!
Red tide is a naturally occurring phenomenon that has been reported even from the Native Americans in Florida and the conquistadors. There have been red tides as severe as this before and there will be years without a red tide. However, this presents a unique opportunity for us as scientists to monitor the bloom and its impact as it occurs. Not maybe the best situation, but we are finding the silver lining. You know we love some good science.
Recently, we have received a grant from Clearwater Marine Aquarium to conduct underwater visual censuses (UVCs) on our nearshore reefs. We conduct a 100 square meter transect quantifying the fish and invertebrates in our transect line. The project entails us performing these UVCs every other week through December to monitor the fish populations on our local sites as this blooms continues on its northward journey. We are also taking water samples and sending them in to FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation for analysis. You can monitor the bloom through their website here: http://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/