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Mote Marine and Booker High School engineer red tide detecting device


Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium partnered up with Booker High School’s Engineering Program to create a device that detects the bacteria that causes red tide in the water.

The device is called a Programmable Hyperspectral Seawater Scanner, or PHSS for short.  Students Victor Arismendi and Evan Lefils were given basic plans for the enclosure and mounts for the lab-based PHSS. They created these items successfully using computer-aided design, and they fully constructed the components in the Booker Engineering lab using their laser and 3D printers, meeting the constraints set forth by Mote.

Red tide affects the wildlife, vendors, and people with respiratory issues.  Harmful algae blooms cause $82 million dollars in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries yearly, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Currently, biologists usually have to go out to the affected area in boats to examine the bacteria.  This device will help cut down on manpower and allow scientists learn more about the causes of this bacteria, if there’s anything that human life is doing to aggravate it’s effect, and how to better handle the outbursts.

Picture credit: Marieli A. De Jesus Gordils