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Water-Related News

Florida scientists: Social media can track toxic algae

In a study published this month for “Harmful Algae” journal, Southwest Florida scientists turned to Twitter data from the 2017-19 event to see how social media users’ posts corresponded with the intensity and locations of the blooms. The paper is a collaboration between the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Florida New College and the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida.

And the results are promising, according to the researchers. The Twitter data revealed strong correlations between the number and sentiment of tweets in a region and how intense the red tide was there. For instance, during weeks when dead fish counts were high in Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee counties, researchers found corresponding increases in tweets with a negative sentiment in those counties.

“The research highlighted how crowd-sourced information from social media could be used to identify hotspots and understand community perceptions about algae blooms in real-time,” Tampa Bay Estuary Program Executive Director Ed Sherwood told the Bradenton Herald in an email.

The results show that Twitter could be a nifty tool in responding to future red tide events, according to the researchers.