About the Red Tide Forum 

Florida red tides happen when a naturally occurring single-celled microscopic organism called Karenia brevis – which is always present in the Gulf of Mexico – undergoes a population increase. Florida red tides occur nearly annually on Florida’s west coast and occur in other areas of the Gulf of Mexico as well. Karenia brevis produces neurotoxins that can kill marine mammals, fish and other marine creatures. Blooms have been shown to affect humans with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma. Because of these impacts, blooms may also have major impacts on coastal residents, visitors and economies.

The Red Tide Forum was a scientific workshop for nearly 70 scientists sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The workshop, held July 17-July 20, 2006, was designed to bring together scientists from across a wide array of disciplines to discuss the future research needs surrounding K. brevis blooms in the Gulf of Mexico. The forum was designed to set the research agenda to help scientists better understand this organism and find new methods that resource managers can use to address its impacts. 

A public forum held on the evening of July 20, 2006, also allowed a panel of scientists to address public questions and concerns surrounding red tide. 

About the Scientific Workshop

Nationally and internationally known red tide experts gathered at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., to discuss current red tide research efforts and address areas that need further exploration. Discussions focused on detection, assessment, prediction, control and mitigation of Florida “red tide.” Discussions began with a historical overview of red tide and red tide research presented by Dr. Karen Steidinger, Florida Institute of Oceanography/Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. 

Other topics about K. brevis covered during the workshop included the cellular and molecular biology, the physiology and ecology, coastal ocean circulation, observation systems and models, ecological modeling, polyether brevetoxins, toxins in the food web and their impacts, monitoring, mitigation and management, prevention and control and community effects and outreach.

The topic areas were designed to give a broad overview of each subject area, with discussion sessions that followed. Discussion groups consisted of scientists with various research focuses in order to broaden discussion. 

Please check back for future information to be posted about the topics. 

About the Public Forum and Survey

A key element of the four-day Scientific Workshop was an online survey for the general public. Scientists uses the results from the survey in their discussions at the Scientific Workshop in order to ensure that residents and visitors had a voice in the direction of future red tide research efforts. The information gathered from the survey helped the scientists focus the direction of their discussions and identify future research priorities.

Questions on the survey were developed by the steering that planned the Scientific Workshop. The survey generated nearly 500 responses between June 23, 2006 and July 17, 2006 and represented 155 different zip codes. Nearly three-quarters of the responses came from people who described themselves as permanent Gulf Coast residents. Overall, the survey indicated strong public support for continued research into a number of areas, notably how blooms begin and end, what role nutrients from man-made sources play in the blooms and ways to mitigate or control the effects of blooms. Survey respondents were also interested in outreach methods that better informed the public about red tide events and locations.

Residents were also invited to the 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Public Forum on July 20 at Mote Marine Laboratory and at satellite locations at Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of South Florida. Dr. Don Anderson, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute began the discussion with an overall presentation about the discussions that took place during the Scientific Forum. View a slide show of the presentation here.

For More Information 

Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Ecotoxicology

Mote Marine Laboratory's Environmental Updates Page 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

NOAA’s National Ocean Service

NOAA’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research

NOAA's Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting System

Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI)

FWRI's Florida Red Tide Current Status

National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences




About Us

Mote Marine Laboratory has been a leader in marine research since it was founded in 1955. Today, we incorporate public outreach as a key part of our mission. Mote is an independent nonprofit organization and has seven centers for marine research, the public Mote Aquarium and an Education Division specializing in public programs for all ages.

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