ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — You've heard a lot about it and you've probably smelled it, but you can actually see the red tide organisms in action at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission research labs.
- FWC researchers continue to study red tide bloom
- Officials plan to release new red tide forecasting system next week
- MORE: Red tide previous stories, links and phone numbers to know
The organisms are magnified 400 times their normal size at a lab in St. Petersburg. Scientists there continue to monitor the size and intensity of the historic bloom.
"We're getting better understanding of where these blooms start," said FWC research scientist Kate Hubbard. "We're getting a better understanding of how they progress and I think through that, we have the means to be able to say, 'OK how are we are we going to prepare for these better? How do we know the conditions? How do we improve our knowledge about the conditions that cause these blooms to form?'"
Getting that, plus real-time conditions on the beaches, in the air and under water to the public, is part of a new forecasting system both NOAA and Pinellas County officials plan to release next week.
In a comment emailed to Spectrum Bay News 9, officials said: "The new experimental forecast is being tested in Pinellas County because it has the most robust data collection system in place for red tide cell counts."
Meanwhile, businesses and residents continue to deal with effects of red tide.
Bruno Falkenstein, whose family has been running the Hurricane Search restaurant across from Pass-a-Grille for decades, said the staff's work hours have been cut in half.
He hopes giving the public access to real-time conditions will help eliminate the fear and bring more business back.
"If you're coming out to the beach, give a call to a restaurant that's reputable," he said. "Give a call to a business out there. They're going to tell you. They don't want you to spend your hard earned money and come out to something that's not enjoyable.”