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Scientists working on compounds to combat red tide

Mote is in the fourth year of the program.

How do you deal with an algae bloom without damaging other creatures and releasing its toxins?

That’s something the scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium have been working on, Mote President and CEO Michael Crosby told the House Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee.

“When they die, the toxin is released, which is not a good thing,” Crosby said. “The algae itself isn’t so much the problem, except as it dies and decomposes in a biomass, it sucks the oxygen out of the water, but that’s a passing thing.

“The toxin is really the insidious result of these red tides, that causes humans to have a hard time to breathe, if it’s really bad. Causes a lot of the death that you see to marine species. So, it’s important not just to kill the algae, because when you kill them, they … burst and release the toxin. You have to denature the toxin as well.”

In the process of figuring out how to properly treat the blooms, scientists in the laboratory test to see if their process kills the organism and then denatures the toxin. If the process passes that test, which Crosby said most don’t, then researchers see if they can put that compound in a large tank with the organism and other marine creatures.