Current Projects

  • Optical Modeling: Eutrophication of an estuarine region often results in the increase in algal blooms in the water column and increase in the growth of epiphytic algae on seagrasses. The combination can result in the loss of seagrass through light limitation. The Program has developed techniques to quantify the light lost due to epiphytes, and to model submarine light across the visible spectrum, simulating the potential usefulness of transmitted light to seagrass as a function of common water column attenuating substances, chlorophyll, color and turbidity. The resulting optical model forms a powerful tool that allows management decisions designed for seagrass protection to be evaluated for likelihood of success.
  • Numeric Nutrient Criteria in Tidal Creeks: Tidal creeks represent isolated, limited-area, and yet critical habitats for the young of many estuarine fish species. Human alterations of the structural and chemical components of these habitats can adversely impact the success of the species. As part of the effort to determine numeric nutrient criteria that would be ideal for these systems and with funding from EPA, the C&PE Program and partners are studying representative creeks in SW Florida from Tampa Bay to Estero Bay, with Mote providing all chemical analyses of water and sediment.
  • Optical brighteners: The Program studies fluorescent optical brighteners contained in laundry detergents, materials added to “make whites whiter.” The work has led to a patented technique for detecting seepage from septic tanks into local water bodies which also contain background levels of natural fluorescent material (tannic acids from plant decomposition). The fluorescent dyes are uniquely associated with human activities, providing a reliable method of detecting anthropogenic wastes and associated excess nutrients despite the presence of naturally fluorescent dissolved organics. The technique can also be used to detect oil residues and dispersants in seawater, distinguishing the fluorescence due to compounds in oil from the same natural tannic compounds.

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