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Scientists experiment with new tool to fight red tide in canals

Posted at 7:57 PM, Aug 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-15 19:57:44-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Mote Marine Laboratory scientists are testing a new system aimed to treat red tide in canals.

Scientists spent six months designing and building the machine. They call it the “ozone-nator." They are using the system for the entire week in a canal in Boca Grande. The inspiration for the idea stemmed from a system they use to purify water going into the aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory.

“If they can clean it up, we’re all for it. It’s yet to be determined if it works. I hope so,” Cindy Rosier said.

Rosier owns a home on the canal where they are testing the equipment.

“If we can do something to clean that up and restore it back to the natural condition that’s what we’d like to do,” Dr. Richard Pierce, with Mote Marine Laboratory, said.

Dr. Pierce said they have noticed results already. He is confident it could significantly help restore the water in canals. He said the system will only work in enclosed waterways.

The “ozone-nator” consumes water, attacking cells and toxins by using ozone. Ultimately it purifies the water before releasing it back into the canal. Dr. Pierce said they are trying to complete the treatment at least twice. He said they received funding from a group in Boca Grande, asking them to test the experiment in their area.

“We’re not interested in getting into the canal cleaning business, but we are interested in seeing what can be done to improve conditions,” Dr. Pierce said.

Dr. Pierce said they are going to review their research. If it works, they hope to expand it. Dr. Pierce said someone would have to license it or take it over so that it can be used wherever it is needed. Dr. Pierce said it could take a year before it can be used in other areas.

People along the coast have reported dead fish on the beach and in canals.

“It’s just a devastating view and hopefully we can do something about that,” Dr. Pierce said.