[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Coconuts help students learn about red tide


Coconuts help students learn about red tide

Dec 29, 2011 6:18 PM EST

In addition to dead fish, you may find painted coconuts on the beaches of Lee County. They're part of a student project at the Sanibel Sea School.

The coconuts started off as a fun project for kids at Sanibel Sea School's holiday camp.

"We painted them and put these letters on them and laminated them," said student Gabriella Sartuche.

They're teaching the kids about more than just art.

"We dropped coconuts and plywood into the ocean to see which way the currents would take them," said student Tom McPherson.

The students released coconuts closest to the highest concentration of red tide in Southwest Florida.

"We saw red tide in the water and it looks brown. The rest of the water
looks blue," said student Kyle Hasenfus.

"We'll see a line of dead fish then the water changes color," said Bruce Neill of the Sanibel Sea School.

Neill showed the kids the red tide bloom.

The brownish-red bloom is about 2 miles south of Sanibel.

"You can actually see it," said Neill.

The red tide patch covers about 10 square miles of water. It's one of millions of patches between southern Lee County and Key West.

It kills many sea creatures in its path from the neurotoxin it releases.

"It's kind sad to see them," said Hasenfus.

The coconuts are to help the students learn about currents.

"We just tested it and we thought it would go one way but really it went the opposite," said McPherson.

That means it's hard to tell where the coconuts will show up next.

If you find one, call the number attached to the coconut.

NBC News


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