Monitor the red tide while helping marine life

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LEE COUNTY

Researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University are monitoring the red tide while helping marine life.

To think outside the box, sometimes you have to go in the box. Huge concrete boxes will soon help FGCU researchers study the red tide in southwest Florida while creating an artificial reef.

“The man-made reef is going to be a series of scuppers, these big concrete caissons, basically, that we’ll put about eight miles off Wiggins Pass,” said Michael Parsons, Ph.D., professor at the FGCU water school.

Once in the water, the boxes will create a reef for marine life.

“This will give more habitat, more places for fish, other marine life to live in, and it can help them survive any of those water impacts or the red tide that we are seeing.” , Parsons said.

For scientists, this will help them conduct red tide experiments.

“We’ll have a, you know, a fixed place where we can always come back to the same place, put sensors there that can measure things like water temperature, oxygen levels, salinity, and so on. , every five minutes. . “

While this is useful in red tide research, researchers at Vester Field Station hope will also create opportunities for students and the public.

“The other thing we want to do with this man-made reef is basically create opportunities for the public to dive and snorkel,” Parsons said.

“I think it’s going to be really good for that and present opportunities for our engineering students. We hope to release works of art. So by involving art students, by getting some entrepreneurial students to develop business plans. “

FGCU must raise $ 300,000 for the project. Once that is done, it will launch an offer for marine construction companies. The goal is to put the scupper in the water this fall.


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