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Mote scientists use drones to study red tide

SARASOTA — A view from the sky may help form a better picture for those on the ground when it comes to toxic algae.

Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium are studying how drones might help form a more complete, real-time view of red tide.

“This is essentially the same data the satellites give you just on a much finer scale, much more real-time and faster,” said Cody Cole, a staff biologist who is involved in marine operations and red tide research.

Cole explains drones equipped with special sensors first capture pictures, able to cover a large swath in a short time period.

“A satellite might make that one thing a whole pixel whereas I have 212 images within there,” he said showing pictures from a recent flight.

Mote recently launched the drones near Lido Key, flying them for the first time over a red tide bloom, Cole said. Researchers are looking at light wavelengths reflecting out of the water.