SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Scientists at the University of South Florida continue to research and track the impacts that the Piney Point spill could have on Tampa Bay. Those scientists are now better understanding the flow and movement of that contaminated water by using the Tampa Bay Coastal Ocean Model.
This model was used to track the changes of the red tide after Hurricane Irma moved through and now it is a crucial piece in seeing how the effluent water is not only dispersing but also diluting.
With the lack of consistent winds or frontal passages, water in Tampa Bay is acting like a bathtub. The water is sloshing back and forth with the flow of tides. This weak movement does not allow that contaminated water to disperse much. As that contaminated water disperses, it is also diluted and acts as a flushing mechanism. Since the nutrient-filled water is not moving much, there has been visible changes out in the waters.
Dr. Bob Weisberg, a professor and scientist at the University of South Florida, and his students noticed that the nutrients have led to a quick growth in plant life closer to the spill point. This is changing the water from green to brown.
“If you are concerned about red tide which everyone seems to be, so far we do not see any indication of anything toxic out there. It is an assemblage of plant life that exists in the ocean. When you feed it a lot of nutrients, it takes off just like in your garden,” Weisberg explained.
The latest samples from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium showed no red tide samples as of the twelfth of April. New red tide samples will be available on April 23.