Red tide provides research opportunity for TAMUCC students

[USA] Red tide has been on the Coastal Bend for a month now, and while dead fish and its ability to cause respiratory problems are distressing to most, for graduate students at Texas A&M Corpus Christi the algal bloom provides the opportunity for research.

“I do have a thesis,” said Jennifer Savicky, who is earning a masters degree in biology and writing her thesis on red tide. “I hope to just find that it’s persisting in other types of organisms that haven’t been studied already.”

Savicky has been working non-stop in Dr. Paul Zimba’s lab ever since red tide washed into the Coastal Bend.

“I just ran over to the bay, collected one liter of water, and was able to pull up a cell that was actually alive. That’s the red tide cell, and it produces the brevetoxin which kills fish,” Savicky said.

She spent 96 hours gathering samples and monitoring their toxin levels…twice. She hopes to prove that even after red tide is gone, it will have a lasting impact.

“The persistence of the toxin in different types of either animal tissue and plant tissue is going to be something that people should watch out for after a bloom has disappeared,” Savicky said.

That persistence could impact the environment and everyday life.

“It’s detrimental to the environment,” Savicky said. “So I’m hoping that when I graduate I can do research on harmful algal blooms and hopefully one day they’ll be able to come up for a solution.”

With red tide becoming more prevalent, the research is even more critical.

“Harmful algal blooms will increase with the increase in temperatures,” Savicky said. “So especially in Corpus Christi Bay you may have this bloom persist for a while.

 

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