Grants for Red Tide Testing, Study
Two University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) researchers have received grants, totaling $168,009, from the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to develop accurate field testing for shellfish farmers and to study Florida Red Tide migration.
Jennifer McCall, an assistant professor in the Clinical Research Program in the School of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services, and Susan Niven, a research specialist at the Center for Marine Science, are collaborating with Mote Marine Lab to provide better real-time information to shellfish farmers during harmful algal blooms of Florida Red Tide.
Harmful algal blooms produce neurotoxins that are accumulated by shellfish. Farmers may harvest the shellfish when it is unknowingly toxic.
Florida Red Tides don’t typically occur in North Carolina, but it is possible, said Niven. She noted a bloom did occur off the coast in 1987. As the oceans warm and currents carry algae, this type of event could occur more often.
“We need to be prepared in case it happens again to help protect our NC fishermen and give them the tools to have real-time information on the safety of their product,” she said. “Also, oysters and other shellfish from Florida and the other Gulf states, where these harmful algae also bloom, do not stay in those areas. There are shellfish in NC available from all over the country. Having more tools available to ensure the safety of shellfish helps protect the health of people who eat this food.”