USFCMS Redeploys Glider as Red Tide Begins to Impact the Coast

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - As respiratory irritation and fish kills from the current red tide began to affect northern Pinellas County, the USF College of Marine Science deployed the robotic underwater glider “Bass” on Monday for a two week mission. Bass monitors conditions including water temperature, salinity, and oxygen and sends these data to USF each time it comes to the water’s surface. This deployment complements other efforts by USF, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Mote Marine Laboratory (MML) to observe and model the development of the red tide.

Red tides caused by the harmful algae Karenia brevis are natural and occur regularly off the west coast of Florida. Changes in circulation in the Gulf of Mexico affect bloom development, frequency, and severity. For example, circulation did not favor bloom formation in 2010 or 2013, but did favor it in the current year.

Bass was deployed on the western edge of the surface bloom and is heading offshore to deeper waters before altering course back to the coast. After the first two days, Bass has detected high levels of algae and low levels of oxygen near the bottom, indicative of red tide. Offshore mapping provides valuable information since the red tide populations are delivered to the coast via near bottom currents.

The current glider deployment will help to improve forecasts by USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides (CPR) by providing information on bloom structure below the surface where satellites cannot see. Recent CPR forecasts show slow surface water movement offshore and slow bottom water movement towards the coast over the next 3 days.

This glider deployment was made possible by an emergency response grant from NOAA and internal support by USF College of Marine Science.

Further Information
During blooms, FWC provides a midweek red tide status update on Wednesdays and a full red tide status report on Fridays.
If you need immediate assistance regarding health related issues, please call the Marine and Freshwater Toxin hotline at 1-(888) 232-8635. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Please report dead or dying fish to FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline at 1-800-636-0511.
For current beach conditions including reports of respiratory irritation along Florida’s Gulf Coast, visit

Mote Marine Laboratory’s Beach Conditions Report.