Slurry of Clay Used to Fight Against Florida’s Deathly “Red Tide”

Last week, hundreds of tons of fish died off the Florida coast “due to the red tide” of a dirty blood cloud of tiny algae that spreads powerful toxins. Scientists have recently developed a fancy technique to kill algae with the help of soil in order to fight against the flower. Known as soil fluctuation, the process involves simply involving the water surface with modified soil particles and seawater slurry. The clay binds the algae and eventually sinks to the beach.

Eventually, the cells and toxins become buried. Many of the algal cells also rupture when they die from contact with altered clay. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHUI), Total Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, and the University of Central Florida recently introduced the method to Florida’s canals and coasts as part of an ongoing initiative that has seen mudslides at 25 other sites.

Florida red tides are known in the Gulf of Mexico by microscopic algae known as Karenia Brevis. Unicellular algae produce a powerful neurotoxin that can cause respiratory illness and eye irritation in humans, as well as fish, shellfish, and marine mammals. 

The algal flower is seen when who. The rapid growth of the population of Bravis caused a rapid explosion, turning the water parts blood-red. Red tides are often felt in the Gulf of Mexico. The tidal wave often passes through the Gulf of Mexico but, moreover, the warm tides driven by climate change have increased the red tide in recent years. For this recent project in Florida, researchers will closely monitor the situation, often taking water samples from both the treated area and the untreated area to see if they can perfect this method of low tide control. Dr. Don Anderson, Senior Scientist at WHOI and Principal Investigator for this Initiative project said in a statement, “We hope this will be the first of the upcoming tests of soil fluctuation on wildflowers.” 

“What we learn here will help us further understand how the Florida situation will affect its success and how soil fluctuations may be appropriate for other species of algae here, as well as in the flowers of Karenia brevis, and elsewhere in the world,” Anderson.