Sen. Nelson meets with FAU Harbor Branch scientists

Oct 18, 2018 \\ Erin MacPherson, CBS12

VERO BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Red tide is thriving on the East Coast.

The highest toxicity levels are off the coast of Vero Beach, according to Malcolm McFarland with FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. McFarland said their research shows nine million cells per liter.

McFarland, Dr. Jim Sullivan and Adam Schaefer met with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday to discuss the growing problem with algal blooms.

McFarland said typically these blooms die after taking in all the nutrients in the water. However, the red tide is multiplying. McFarland explained to Nelson that for the toxins to continue to thrive, there has to be added nutrients into the water. Nelson asked if there was science to back up that theory.

However, McFarland said that is hard to prove.

Sullivan explained the red tide in Indian River County is continuing to move north and will soon be out of the area. However, he said this toxin is in the Florida Keys and with the current moving North, "we could see a repeat of this."

"Even though we may see it disappear in the next few days, we could see another repeat of this exact same thing," Sullivan said.

Schaefer explained to Nelson his role in this project, testing people on both the east and west coast to see how the toxins are absorbed in the body and how they can be potentially harmful to human health. He added this is something we know very little about and need funding to understand this further, especially the long term health effects.

These three scientists appreciated Nelson took the time to understand what is happening on the east coast with these algal blooms. Before meeting them in Fort Pierce on Wednesday, Nelson met with people on the west coast to discuss the issues there.


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