Go to the beach? This survey’s for you

10462792_10204096538835309_2422948536574984396_nTo the Editor:

If you visit Florida’s beaches, your feedback can help Mote Marine Lab scientists enhance their real-time Beach Conditions Reporting System (BCRS). Florida residents and visitors are invited to take a short survey about what kinds of beach information they want.

To see Mote’s BCRS, visit mote.org/beaches.

Mote’s BCRS provides twice-daily or daily updates on conditions like wave height, wind direction, surf conditions, presence of seaweed or dead fish, rip currents, cautionary lifeguard flags and respiratory irritation due to the harmful algal bloom, Florida red tide. Mote scientists created the report to help the public adjust their beach choices during red tides, and the system’s variety of information has since become a valuable resource at all times.

Mote’s survey will help make the BCRS website more user-friendly and include data that matter most to Florida residents and its millions of visitors. 95 million people visited the Sunshine State in 2013.

The BCRS currently monitors 28 of Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches in Escambia, Okaloosa, Gulf, Franklin, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties, and Mote is actively seeking opportunities to expand its coverage.

On each beach, trained volunteers such as lifeguards and park rangers take specific observations and photos to document current conditions. Their findings are processed and distributed through Mote’s Southern Operations Coastal Ocean Observing Laboratory (SO-COOL) – which collects and manages several kinds of environmental data to support marine science, ecosystem health and public outreach.

Haley Rutger

Content Development Manager

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Sarasota