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November 10, 2014

Why did red tide not reach the West Florida Continental Shelf in 2010?

Robert Weisberg, SECOORA Principal Investigator, and his affiliates were recently published in the journal Harmful Algae*, Volume 38. The paper, “Why no red tide was observed on the West Florida Continental Shelf in 2010,” analyzes why Karenia Brevis, Florida red tide organism, did not reach the Florida coastline in 2010.

They concluded that the lack of red tide along the west coast of Florida in 2010 was due to anomalously large and protracted upwelling of nutrient-rich waters of deep ocean origin caused by Loop Current and eddy interactions with the shelf slope1. Both the physics of the circulation and the biology of the organism are necessary conditions for a K. brevis bloom to occur near shore; neither alone, however, is a sufficient condition1. This paper reinforced the growing recognition that we need an interdisciplinary and integrated ocean observing system.

*Harmful Algae is a multi-partner project that was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ECOHAB Program and included 14 research papers from seven institutions. The research team studied four red tide blooms caused by the harmful algae species K. brevis in 2001, ’07, ’08 and ’09, plus the non-bloom year 2010. Their goal was to understand which nutrients supported these red tides and the extent to which coastal pollution might contribute; helping reveal what drives red tide in southwest Florida2.


Image credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife

1 Weisberg, Robert H., Lianyuan Zheng, Yonggang Liu, Chad Lembke, Jason M. Lenes, and John J. Walsh. “Why No Red Tide Was Observed on the West Florida Continental Shelf in 2010.”Harmful Algae 38 (2014): 119-26. Science Direct. Web.