Red Tide spikes manatee fatalities


Recently, there has been an estimated 100 manatee fatalities due to the lingering toxic algae known as Red Tide. With the collaboration between FIU researchers and Mote Marine Laboratory scientists, there is a sign of hope that those numbers will drop and keep manatees from plummeting to the endangered lists.

Chemist, Kathleen Rein, from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Mote’s immunology expert, Cathy Walsh, lead the current three-year project, funded by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s ECOHAB program.

These scientists are trying to develop new ways to treat manatees exposed to this outbreak by improving the veterinary care for rescued manatees and studying how the cells in their immune system respond to certain antioxidants.

Rein and Walsh hope to discover more efficient treatment for manatees to fight off the toxins that compromise their immune system, causing a harmful phenomenon known as “oxidative stress,” leaving these sea cows to fatal illness.

The prospective antidote aims to build up their immunity and accelerate the healing process of clearing the dreadful toxin.

“If this treatment is successful, it could also be used with many other animals, including dolphins, turtles and birds,” Rein said.

For more information on their progress to the cure, read the full article on SRQ Magazine.