Sarasota, Florida -- A three-day research cruise studying the largest red tide bloom associated with a fish kill since 2006 is back. What have the scientists learned so far?
"FWC and information by the Center of Prediction there's an anticipation some of the bloom could make it near shore in the next several weeks," says Dr. Vince Lovko, program director for Phytoplankton Ecology Program with Mote Marine Laboratories.
UPDATES: Check here for red tide updates
On Thursday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report that researchers found that the bloom is patchy and most highly concentrated at stations 70 miles offshore.
The bloom is 30 miles offshore, still moving slowly south-southeast stretching 90 miles north to south from Dixie County to the Pasco/Pinellas border.
Lovko joined scientists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of South Florida on the R/VV Bellows and studied the front or south end of the bloom and east and west edges.
"So we can look at the conditions outside of the bloom compare to inside the bloom help us understand the water column conditions that influence the movement," Lovko said.
Researchers covered a 2,000-square-mile area about 70 miles offshore, stopping at 24 stations and taking water samples from five depths, according to Mote, and they found the movement is slow but heading southeast.
"Did see scattered dead fish in the area of the bloom see areas of stratification low oxygen density at the bottom," Lovko said.
Lovko says they spotted the red tide algae called Karenia Brevis at about 60 feet down. But it has been spotted even deeper.
INTRODUCTION:Mote information on red tide
Scientists are getting help from two robotic gliders from Mote named Waldo and Bass. The gliders are out in the bloom gathering information.
Mote scientists say Waldo is off Hernando County and has detected Karenia Brevis at about 82 feet down. Bass is taking readings from the outer edge of the bloom and has detected the red tide algae up to 131 feet deep.
The robotic gliders can reach depths scientists can't. Dr. Kellie Dixon, manager of Mote's Ocean Technology program, give a real time view of Waldo's location.
"Right now Waldo is going down and up every two hours. He's doing repetitive yo-yo effect. He floats up he comes to the surface sticks his fin out of the water and sends us this data," she said.
Dixon says Waldo is expected to finish its mission this week and Bass should wrap up its research in two three weeks.
Scientists with Mote Marine say they may have some results next week but it will take longer to study all the data collected.