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What causes brown tide? TAMUCC marine biologist professor and te - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

What causes brown tide? TAMUCC marine biologist professor and team of volunteers believe they've solved the mystery

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Brown tide is bad for the eco-system and our local economy but what causes it and can it be prevented?

Dr. Michael Wetz, Marine Biologist with Texas A&M Corpus Christi says he was approached by a group of citizens who were concerned over the health of Baffin Bay. Now, 3 years later that group, along with Dr. Wetz have concluded their research and believe they've solved the brown tide mystery.

Once a month, every month for the last three years, local business owners, fishing guides and retirees all volunteered alongside Dr. wetz, collecting water samples in Baffin Bay. They came together as a result of a conversation about brown tide after quizzing Dr. Wetz about what causes those blooms. Now they're partners in finding answers to what's become a half million dollar question -- that's how much grant money they have to work with and they're already getting results.

Dr. Wetz said, "We've identified a type of nitrogen that brown tide uses that nobody has studied before in this system and the levels of that nitrogen are really high in Baffin Bay."

Dr. Wetz says the water in Baffin Bay is poorly flushed which makes it very sensitive to nitrogen, which comes from a combination of things like agricultural inputs, wastewater inputs and even septic.  

Long term, Dr. Wetz says although brown tide isn't harmful to people it turns the water dark and cloudy, shading the sea grass so it doesn't get enough sunlight and dies which could lead to a loss of breeding sites for fish. 

Now that the team of researchers have identified what they believe causes brown tide, their work isn't done. They plan to develop various solutions starting with presenting their research to environmental agencies and groups.

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