An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Mote and partners receive $3.2 million from DEP to combat harmful algal blooms

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Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, in collaboration with commercial and academic partners, were awarded $3.2 million in grants from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to fund three projects focused on preventing blue-green algal blooms and testing water quality technologies that reduce nutrient pollution levels.

The grants are part of the Innovative Technology Grant Program in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which funds projects that evaluate and implement innovative technologies and solutions to combat algal blooms and nutrient enrichment, restore and preserve Florida water bodies, and implement water quality treatment technologies.

“We know first-hand how devastating Harmful Algae Blooms can be,” said Dr. Michael P. Crosby, Mote President & CEO. “We’re thrilled DEP recognized the important role that Mote plays in the development of new technologies and science-based approaches for mitigating the impacts of HABs to the environment, economy and quality of life in Florida communities and around the world. We’re thankful that the state has remained steadfast in its commitment to utilizing best available science for enhancing water quality in both marine and freshwater ecosystems. Florida has led the U.S. with its continued strategic investments in innovative technologies to detect, prevent, and mitigate harmful algal blooms in the most effective, efficient and environmentally sensitive manner possible.”

Florida’s beaches and waterways have been severely impacted by toxic algae. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur when algae — simple organisms that live in the sea and freshwater — grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. There are many kinds of HABs, caused by a variety of algal and cyanobacterial groups with different toxins.

Florida red tide is one of the most commonly known HABs. However, the three projects funded under the Innovative Technology Grant Program look at mitigation and prevention techniques of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, which are another type of HABs affecting Florida’s waterways that is known to be directly influenced by excess nutrients entering waterways.

Blue-green algae are microscopic organisms found naturally in fresh, brackish (combined salt and freshwater), and marine water. Blue green algae blooms are characterized by blue, bright green, brown or red paint-like streaks on the surface of the water, dense scum, or foam that can emit unpleasant odors.

In warm, nutrient-rich (high in phosphorus and nitrogen) environments, cyanobacteria can multiply quickly, creating blooms that spread across the water’s surface. Similar to other HABs like Florida red tide, blue-green algae can produce toxins that harm fish, mammals and people.