Capt. Phil O’Bannon will be the executive director of the Boca Grande Mote office, located in Railroad Plaza. While the office isn’t scheduled to officially open until the beginning of next year, he’s already started his first task – to spearhead a volunteer red tide outreach program.
As if that weren’t enough good news, an anonymous backer has given Mote its first year’s funding for the red tide program on the island.
At a seminar given on Tuesday, Nov. 27, Mote researchers and publicists gave an overview of what the program would entail.
“The traditional way to monitor red tide is to go out on boat or pier, take a water sample, take it to the lab, put it under a microscope and start counting the red tide cells,” said Dr. Barb Kirkpatrick, senior scientist at Mote. “While it is really accurate, it’s also really time consuming and it’s rare you get results in the same day. Red tide can change from day to day, even from morning to afternoon in some cases. Though this type of testing works well for shellfish regulations, at some point I realized it wasn’t the kind of information that is useful for beachgoers.”
That is the type of information that Mote Marine is looking for, and they’re looking for volunteers interested in gathering it.
Volunteers will head out to the beaches at either the north or south ends of the island, connect to Mote with a smartphone and file their report. The report then goes out to the network, then goes to Google maps. Once the information is reported, people can access the report from a computer or a telephone.
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