Mote Marine Lab names the director of their new red tide institute

Mote Hires Researcher To Lead Red Tide Institute

SARASOTA COUNTY (WWSB) - Mote Marine Lab hired a scientific director to manage its new red tide institute. Dr. Cynthia Heil has an extensive background studying Florida red tide, including working with NOAA and the FWC.

This institute, which began last month at Mote, concentrates on controlling the red tide and alleviating the effects. Heil said she hopes they can think of new ways to control this issue, which is still effecting the Suncoast.

"It's been the worst I've ever seen it in the twenty years that I've been out here. We've had it several times over the years but not for the duration or the intensity of it," said Lido Beach resident Carl Shoffstall.

Mote's red tide institute's new Director, Dr. Cynthia Heil, said her focus will be on educating people, developing ways to destroy red tide cells and toxins in bodies of water, and controlling the aerosol effects.

"I'm developing a technique to add compounds, natural compounds, to the water to change the surface tension. So essentially reduce aerosolization so not necessarily destroy the red tide but mitigate its effects on people," said Heil.

Something that one local said really affected him.

"When it was really, really intense you would go outside and you would cough and sneeze and you definitely can tell it was in the air," Shoffstall said.

Heil said this technique could bring more people to the beach, "If I can reduce the aerosolization , there will be less impacts at the beach so people would be more willing to go to the beach during the red tide."

Two researchers from Mote are currently working at the institute and while they plan to have more researchers from Mote to help, Heil said she's also interested in working with people overseas.

"We're very interested in some of the methods in the far east, they're kind of at the front of the field testing methods to alleviate different red tide effects on aquaculture and some of those may be applicable to Florida, we won't know until we actually test them," Heil said.

Heil will start working at this institute in January and as for funding they hope to continue to get donations as well as obtain research grants.

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