Hazardous Algal Bloom Training to Delve into the Mysteries of Red Tide
Posted: 05/16/2012
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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas -- A hazardous algal bloom (HAB) training will be held at The University of Texas-Pan American Coastal Studies Lab, located in Isla Blanca Park, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 19.

Pictured are dead fish found Oct. 21, 2011 at Children's Beach, which is located within Isla Blanca Park at South Padre Island (SPI). UTPA's Coastal Studies Lab will host a training May, 19, 2012 on hazardous algal blooms (HABs) that may be responsible for the deaths of fish and other wildlife.

Participants will learn about mysterious impacts of red tide and how to respond to harmful algal blooms such as red tide in gulf and bay waters of Cameron County. They will also learn how to join the award winning Texas Red Tide Ranger program, which monitors red tide blooms in South Texas.

Brigette Goza, education coordinator with the Coastal Studies Lab will recount recent red tide blooms, lessons learned from the events and teach procedures for collecting, identifying and counting red tide cells.

Meridith Byrd, Texas hazardous algal bloom response coordinator will cover red tide, Karenia brevis and Dinophysis ovum (a species responsible for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning), the two HABs monitored most closely by the state for health and fishery impacts. Byrd also will talk about the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Department of State Health Services' roles during a bloom and how monitoring data (including Red Tide Ranger data) is used to determine bay openings, closures, and media releases.

Paul Zimba, Ph.D., director of the Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, will reveal research findings on brevetoxin, (the red tide toxin) concentrations found in redhead ducks, cormorants, and coyotes found dead on the island during and after recent red tide blooms. Did red tide kill them? Participants will learn about these mysterious deaths and more at the training.

This training is one of three courses required for volunteers seeking certification as Texas Coastal Naturalists - a new program that trains volunteers in the Laguna Madre area to be first responders to events like harmful algal blooms, cold stunned sea turtle strandings, marine mammal strandings, oiled wildlife and other coastal natural emergencies. In the winter of 2011, Texas Coastal Naturalists assisted in rescuing more than 800 cold stunned green sea turtles in the Laguna Madre. They also monitored the recent red tide and provided valuable information on location and concentration of the bloom.

The Texas Coastal Naturalist program provides a volunteer base for the Coastal Studies Lab, Sea Turtle Inc. and the Cameron County Extension Service. The Rio Grande Valley Chapter Texas Master Naturalists sponsors the program, which is also supported by the Texas Sea Grant College Program, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Harmful Algal Bloom Work Group, the Gladys Porter Zoo, and The University of Texas at Brownsville.

Cost for the training is $10 payable to the Rio Grande Valley Chapter Texas Master Naturalist. The cost covers the three trainings required to be certified as a Texas Coastal Naturalist.

Current Coastal Naturalists are invited to take the HAB training as a refresher or as a continuation of the three courses, free of charge. Registration is required and seating is limited. To register for the workshop, call Diane Abbott at the Coastal Studies Lab, (956) 761-2644.

The Texas Sea Grant College Program is a partnership of university, government and industry focusing on marine research, education and outreach. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 32 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences Texas A&M University.

TXSGE is a joint outreach program of Texas Sea Grant, Texas AgriLife Extension and the Commissioners Courts in participating counties.