Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) co-hosted the 7th Symposium on Harmful Algae in the U.S at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. The conference concluded on Thursday, October 31.
“Harmful algal blooms cause real impacts on communities worldwide,” said Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, manager of Mote’s Environmental Health Program and event co-chair.
The Symposium provides a forum for scientific exchange and technical communication on all aspects of Harmful Algal Bloom research in the United States, according Dr. Leanne Flewelling, research administrator with the FWC's Harmful Algal Bloom group and event co-chair.
A total of 215 people from 31 states attended including 57 students and 108 professionals presenting talks and posters over the 5 day Symposium.
“It is the only national conference designed specifically for Harmful Algal Bloom scientists and managers,” said Dr. Flewelling. “The Symposium also has a tradition of encouraging student participation.”
The plenary address was given by Dr. Karen Steidinger, Research Scientist with the FWC. “My research on red tide helped delineate stages of bloom development, recognize new harmful algae species, recognize the importance of life cycles in HAB development, and introduced the tool of remote sensing to harmful algae research,” she said.
Awards were presented for the best student poster, speed talk, and oral presentation. The students each won a student membership in the Phycological Society of America and $250.00.
“We were very pleased with the Symposium, particularly with the high caliber of the next generation of HAB researchers,” said Dr. Flewelling.
Best Student Poster went to Alexis Fischer, from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution with her research on "The effect of temperature conditioning on Alexandrium fundyense cyst germination dynamics in a shallow estuarine system."
Best Student Speed Talk was awarded to Justine Schmidt from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry on "Variations in the microcystin content of different fish species collected from a eutrophic lake."
Best student Oral Presentation went to Kevin Meyer from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science with his research on "What exactly are you growing? An assessment of the bacterial community in commonly used cultures of Karenia brevis and other toxic and non-toxic dinoflagellates."
Gulf Cost residents are most familiar with Karenia brevis the organism that causes red tide, resulting in fish kills, death of marine mammals, and respiratory effects on humans.
Dr. Steidinger explained that although red tides are harmful, citizens can stay informed. “Being informed with accurate information helps prepare citizens and tourists for handling red tide events on Florida’s coasts and actually can reduce the impacts,” she said.
For red tide conditions, visit FWC's webpage or call the FWC Red Tide status line at 866-300-9399 or callers outside of Florida can dial 727-552-2448.
Beach conditions can also be monitored at Mote Marines webpage or by calling 941-beaches. For more information on red tide research, visit the Florida red tide and other harmful algae (HABs) Facebook page.