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Sarasota, Florida -- A large red tide bloom 80 miles long off the Hernando County coast is moving south, according to FWC. On Thursday, researchers with Mote Marine Laboratories in Sarasota headed north to learn more about the bloom.

A team of four researchers gathered data and water samples from 12 locations ahead of the bloom between Sarasota and Hernando. Researchers say they took several samples at each stop from the surface all the way down to about 100 feet deep. From there, scientists will measure toxin levels and cell counts from each sample.

Then, scientists headed into the heart of the bloom where they saw the effects of the bloom.

"They did see some scattered fish, some larger fish -- I'm not sure of the species at the moment. They saw discolored water, the characteristic dark brown water indicative of red tide. They did notice a little bit of respiratory irritation when they sat on station. And all this was at the one station farthest into the bloom," says Vince Lovko, a researcher with Mote Marine Laboratories.

FWC says the bloom remains 40 miles off shore clear of the beaches. WTSP

Lovko says the data gathered will help scientists better predict the movement of the bloom on the surface and below the surface.

Lovko says some of the test results from the water samples may be ready Friday, in time for FWC's weekly report. The rest of the data won't be ready until next week.

Lovko says he will be joining FWC and other scientists this Sunday, Aug. 3 for a 3-day expedition to the bloom.

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