Red Tide Ranger trainees identify red tide cells

News Center 23
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POSTED: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 5:02pm

UPDATED: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 8:44am

Red tide: it's defined as a large concentration of aquatic microorganisms. And the harmful algal bloom can kill aquatic life...and for some people, it can cause respiratory problems. Volunteers at the UTPA Coastal Studies Lab got hands-on experience hoping to become Red Tide Rangers, discovering ways to find out if red tide becomes part of the waters of South Texas again.

"the participants today were trained in how to collect a water sample, and prepare a slide, and observe the slide for red tide blood cells and of course how to identify the cells," said UTPA Coastal Studies Lab Senior Program Coordinator, Brigette Goza.

The volunteers' completed data will be sent to Texas Parks & Wildlife for further research.

"The work they'll be doing will help us out in determining if we have red tide present or not and also it will help us with the extent of the bloom, the exact locations, and we can also somewhat measure the severity of the bloom on these, these cell concentrations," said Texas Parks & Wildlife coastal ecologist, Willy Cupit.

Fortunately, residents in this area don't have much to worry about right now.

"Although red tide has been known to be prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico, there is currently no red tide in the coastal waters of South Texas. However, because algal bloom can be harmful to both animals and humans, officials believe that red tide training is particularly important."

"One of the most interesting aspects that got me coming to this specific lecture was the, uh, the effect on humans as well as the effect on the Gulf wildlife so I was very interested to learn how it might affect someone with asthma or bronchial problems or just normal people or just people with allergies," said Red Tide Ranger candidate Anita Westervelt.

This group of Red Tide Ranger Volunteers can now join first responders in case algal bloom does spread south.

"Today's training just went really well and we're so thankful that we have a really well-developed volunteer group in this area," said Goza.

Reporting from South Padre Island, Marty Watson, KVEO News Center 23.

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