Phytoplankton - sometimes called microscopic algae - can seem a bit like Jekyll and Hyde. Some produce much of the air we breathe and nourish the ocean's food chain, while others form harmful algal blooms that range from annoying to hazardous for people and animals. The fact is, phytoplankton are really diverse, with lots of scientific groupings having a wide variety of traits ranging from helpful to harmful. Mote Staff Scientist Dr. Vince Lovko tells Hayley and Joe about the phytoplankton in our "backyard," the Gulf of Mexico, including the kinds you might wade through at the beach and never notice, along with one kind that draws Floridians' attention: the harmful algal bloom Florida red tide. The really fun part: Dr. Lovko is planning to test flying drones to monitor algal blooms from the air.
Check out the red tide monitoring app mentioned in the show by searching "CSIC Mote" in the App Store or Google Play. CSIC stands for Citizen Science Information Collaboration.