FWC News Release

"Ask the red tide experts" media conference call at 10:30 a.m. EDT Friday
(FWC and Mote Marine Laboratory joint announcement)

Contacts: Wendy Quigley, FWC 727-896-8626
or Nadine Slimak, Mote 941-302-4997

A panel of experts invites the media to attend a teleconference explaining the basics of Florida's red tide. The purpose of the call is to assist media outlets in geographic locations that may not commonly experience red tides.

The call will occur at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Friday, Oct. 19, and will include experts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDOACS).

Florida red tide blooms are most common off the coasts of Central and Southwest Florida. However, in late September, scientists confirmed the presence of red tide blooms in the western Florida Panhandle and off of Florida's northeast coast. Researchers continue to receive reports of fish kills and respiratory irritation associated with these blooms.

Residents and visitors to the Florida Panhandle and the state's east coast may be less familiar with red tide than those who live in other parts of the state. Readers and viewers may have questions about how red tide affects humans and how it affects animals, especially the fish and shellfish that may be on residents' dinner plates.

The conference call will bring together experts to discuss red tide basics and allow members of the media to ask questions about "Karenia brevis," the Florida red tide organism. The experts will provide a general overview of Florida red tide, provide information about consumer seafood safety basics, and discuss how red tide affects humans, as well as current health-related studies that are under way. The panel members will also discuss current resources for both media and members of the public interested in learning more about red tide.

The conference call will be moderated by Wendy Quigley, outreach coordinator for FWRI, and organized by Nadine Slimak, public relations manager at Mote Marine Laboratory.

A panel of red tide experts will provide information on the specifics of the current situation. Jay Abbott, fisheries and wildlife biologist with FWRI, will address Florida red tide basics. Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, manager of the Environmental Health Program at the Mote Marine Laboratory, will address current research studies on human health impacts. Andy Reich, aquatic toxins coordinator with FDOH, will address impacts on public human health and provide recommendations from FDOH during a red tide outbreak. David Heil, bureau chief of FDOACS, will address shellfish seafood safety. Information will also be given to the media regarding available resources from each of the agencies. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentations. Questions outside the expertise of the panelists will not be addressed during this call and may be deferred to other experts.

Media should call 800-391-1709, using the pass code, "453516." Callers will be asked to state their name and affiliation. By participating, callers give their consent to be recorded. Call-in access closes at 10:35 a.m. During the question and answer period, callers can press 5* (asterisk) to ask a question.