Volunteer Monitoring Program

Learn about the program and how to become a volunteer, collecting water samples around the state to help scientists monitor the Florida red tide.

rtomp logoThe FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) established the Red Tide Offshore Monitoring Program - a volunteer program - in 2000 to assist the researchers who study Karenia brevis, the organism that causes Florida red tide. Citizen volunteers expand the spatial coverage of FWRI's monitoring program by collecting water samples from routine collection points and sites reported for suspected harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Because of limited state personnel, boats, and other resources, the program relies on volunteers of all kinds, such as charter boat captains, commercial fishers, divers, and other citizens. Volunteers throughout Florida collect water samples from offshore areas and coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

  Viewing with microscope

Timely sampling by volunteers allows researchers to provide an early warning of offshore algal blooms and investigate reported events as they occur. At FWRI, researchers examine the samples under a microscope to identify and count HAB organisms. They release their findings in statewide status reports and record them in a historical database.

Current volunteers

We thank all of our volunteers for their participation in the Red Tide Offshore Monitoring Program, which is vital to the success of HAB research. In appreciation of this commitment and dedication, FWRI honors a Volunteer of the Month.

Active volunteers may access the Volunteer Information Center with a login name and password. The center provides online access to service records, news items, and more to keep volunteers informed and involved in the program.

Volunteer sampling activity for 2012 Volunteer sampling coverage for 2012
Volunteer sampling activity
in 2012 for each month
Volunteer sampling coverage for 2012


New volunteers

  Areas of greatest need  

The Red Tide Offshore Monitoring Program needs volunteers to collect offshore water samples from all coastal Florida counties, especially in the southwest and along the east coast (see map). To see counties where volunteers are needed, visit Volunteer Opportunities.

Volunteers must be able to collect water samples at least once a month from piers, bridges, or docks alongshore or from locations at least 1 mile offshore. They may be asked to respond to reports of algal blooms and collect water samples for analysis. FWRI pays for sampling supplies and shipping costs.

E-mail RTOMP_coordinator@MyFWC.com for more information or use the Volunteer Signup Form.



Volunteer taking sample
volunteer on boat

Quarterly newsletters contain articles of interest to volunteers, such as the following:

  • Project highlights
  • Volunteer spotlight
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Harmful algal bloom species profiles

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If you would like to know more about Florida red tide and other HABs, visit Red Tide FAQ or other Red Tide articles.

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