Melbourne scientists working to predict red tide

Forecasting service using satellite images to detect patterns

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

MELBOURNE, Fla. - Scientists in Brevard County are using satellite images to try and predict where the red tide will hit next.

Matt Upton, president and owner of Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service, said his team is studying images provided by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He said the images show green blobs off the coast of Brevard County -- a sign of chlorophyll, or plant life, in the ocean. He said the brown blobs embedded in the green indicate a high concentration of chlorophyll, and it's there, he said, that red tide has been found.

"We’ve seen this kind of high signal off of Melbourne and the Satellite Beach area and down toward Sebastian for a few days now," he told News 6.

On Wednesday, Melbourne Beach experienced a massive fish kill. Thousands of fish washed ashore, and many blame the recent red tide.

Upton said the satellite imagery agrees.

"You can kind of line it up and see where it could be a result of the fish kill is the high elevation of the chlorophyll from the satellites," he said.

Upton said this is not an exact science, but his team at ROFFS will be analyzing the satellite images more in hopes of pinpointing more forecasting accuracy for red tide.

Click here to view images and learn more.

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