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Water-Related News

Mote developing app so beachgoers can record red tide observations

Almost every day, Mote Marine Laboratory environmental health staff scientist Tracy Fanara gets a phone call or email from someone on the Gulf Coast experiencing the effects of red tide, a toxic algae bloom that has lingered since last September.

Whether the concern is from a tourist or a longtime resident, their response is often similar: they're coughing or seeing dead fish or wondering what that strange smell is in the air.

Now those noticing the effects of red tide during their trips to the beach can take matters into their own hands through Mote's latest venture, the Citizen Science App. Designed as an addition to their online Beach Conditions Reporting System, which details conditions observed by lifeguards and trained sentinels, the app allows users to report what they are experiencing — respiratory irritation, dead fish or water discoloration — along with their exact location. The information is compiled and listed on a separate "citizen reports" layer of the Beach Conditions Report. Although the app is being tested, Fanara says she hopes it will be ready in the next month.