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Aug 19, 2010 12:31 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Scientists seek help tracking red tide

Aug 19, 2010 12:31 PM

Scientists from Stony Brook University are asking for the public’s help in tracking the blooms of toxic “red tide” in local bays this summer and fall.

In hopes of compiling data on the places and times that the red tide—actually massive swarms of microscopic organisms—is blossoming, the scientists are asking members of the public who see the red tide to simply send them an e-mail with information about the location and time they saw the red tide blooms.

“We can’t be everywhere at all times, so this will give us better coverage of the areas where its popping up,” said Dr. Christopher Gobler, a professor at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Science who is leading the red tide research. “Months later, it might give us something to hone in on further, to get a sense of whether it is expanding or whether it’s playing some role in scallops dying or something.”

Anyone spotting areas of water striated with streaks of red or brown, or stained a cloudy reddish brown, is urged to send an e-mail with a very brief general description of where it was spotted and the date and time to margaret.grigonis@sunysb.edu.

The red tide appeared in late July, about a month earlier this year than it has each summer since it first appeared in local waters in 2004. The clouds of reddish-brown water have been sighted in eastern Shinnecock Bay and in scattered areas throughout the Peconic Estuary between Riverhead and Cedar Point in East Hampton.

The organisms, tiny single-cell creatures called dinoflagellates, migrate up and down in the water column, gathering near the bottom at night and at the surface late in the morning and afternoon.

MICHAEL WRIGHT

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