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Local experts search for red tide answers

Red tide blooms are like chili: Everyone’s recipe is different, said one panel member at the "Red Tide in the Gulf Coast" discussion.

Red tide.

It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon, but there are ways to mitigate the impacts.

The "Red Tide in the Gulf Coast" panel discussion on Nov. 13 allowed local officials to share experiences through multiple sectors relating to red tide. The panel was hosted by the Science and Technology Society, along with University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

A show of hands around the USF Sarasota-Manatee auditorium proved everyone in attendance had lived through at least one red tide bloom.

“We still need answers, we still need solutions, we still need people who care and we still need much more information,” USF Sarasota-Manatee Chancellor Karen Holbrook said. “So I think today’s meeting is extremely important.”

The panel was moderated by Barbara Kirkpatrick, senior advisor with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observation System.

She began with a brief introduction to red tide, which is an algal bloom event caused by the microscopic algae Karenia brevis, or K. brevis.

The algae produces toxins that can kill fish, birds and marine mammals. Inhaled toxins by humans or pets can lead to respiratory system issues.