Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s President & CEO, Dr. Michael P. Crosby, spoke to the Bay Area Legislative Delegation (BALD) to provide updates on the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative that is led by Mote in partnership with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Members of BALD include both Florida Senators and Representatives, representing Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. The meeting was held at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, and Crosby was among a range of speakers, including leadership from Tampa Bay Partnership, Central Florida Development Council, Lakeland Regional Health, University of South Florida Medical School and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, that came together to present on issues important to the region for the delegation.
A previous convening of BALD, in Feb. 2019, also included a presentation from Crosby on Florida red tide, and took place at Mote. At that meeting, the delegation voted unanimously to make red tide mitigation a priority, and later that year, in June 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida Red Tide Mitigation & Technology Development Initiative into law. At today’s BALD meeting, Crosby presented updates on the progress of the Initiative, now beginning its third year, and the efforts of Mote and partners to develop innovative technologies for effectively mitigate red tide algae and its toxins.
Since the creation of the Initiative, over 25 projects have been funded, which range from testing compounds that directly kill red tide cells to improved technologies for detecting red tide toxins in shellfish and notifying the public (visitbeaches.org) on a daily basis where beaches and coastal areas are free of red tide impacts. Over 20 business, academic, and agency partners are participating in these projects, which use a tiered approach for testing mitigation strategies. Mote also completed the construction of a cutting-edge red tide mitigation technology development and testing facility at the Mote Aquaculture Research Park (MAP). Here, for no charge, partnering Initiative scientists and engineers from marine research institutions, agencies, universities and private companies from around the world are safely testing mitigation technologies long before they would be considered for deployment in bays and coastal waters. Read more about the Initiative at redtidemtdi.org
Senator Jim Boyd (District 21) was elected as the Chair designee for the delegation during this meeting and stated, “I am always very impressed with the work being done at Mote Marine Laboratory. This organization has proven to be a worldwide leader in its efforts to research and eradicate red tide.”
A patchy bloom of Florida red tide is currently present in areas on the southwest coast of Florida, including in counties represented by the delegation. Crosby also provided an overview of the current situation and the history of red tide research, and shared Mote’s expertise on red tide bloom dynamics.