Gulf Guardian Award Winners 2006
Partnership Category - 3rd Place
From September to November 2005 the lower Texas coast experienced a major red tide bloom. Biologists from Texas Cooperative Extension (TCE), University of Texas Pan-American (UTPA) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) trained a South Padre Island volunteer group, the Texas Red Tide Rangers, to collect water samples, prepare slides, and identify red tide cells under a microscope. Volunteers were needed because the area does not have enough biologists available to do the sampling. The Rangers’ data was incorporated into daily red tide updates posted on the web and recorded on the toll-free red tide information line. These volunteers’ efforts provided Texans with accurate and timely information on the extent of the bloom. The Rangers also recorded weather observations and reported any red tide-induced irritation. The Rangers continued their daily routine for two months, the entire duration of the bloom, and operations ended on November 7, 2005 after weeks of declining cell counts. They had collected and analyzed approximately 376 samples.