Water-Related News

Red tide projections indicate no toxic blooms in the near future, but that could change

In the next few months, scientists will be monitoring the current, temperature and tropical storm activity, as these factors can shift red tide blooms.

The Gulf of Mexico has been spared from red tide so far this year. The typical season for these toxic algae blooms is from late summer into fall.

"When we typically see the most blooms, just looking back historically, that would typically be in September, October, November,” said Kate Hubbard, who leads the red tide program at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. She’s also the director for the FWC Center for Red Tide Research.

Hubbard said her team, along with the University of South Florida and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is trying to forecast this year's situation.

"For this year, we would hope that it would be a short bloom — that's what we always hope. No bloom would be welcome," Hubbard said. "But in terms of where we're at what conditions are doing, we're still in the window where we might see something pop up pretty much at any time."

In the next few months, the scientists will be monitoring the Gulf of Mexico loop current, which can upwell nutrients from the continental shelf to nearshore waters. Nutrients feed the red tide microorganism Karenia brevis, which can lead to high concentrations considered bloom levels.

They’ll also be on the lookout for any changes in the water caused by drops in temperature through the fall, along with any tropical activity. These factors and more can either feed or suppress blooms.