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Spencer Fire, Ph.D. - Florida Tech. Melbourne, FL, US

Spencer Fire, Ph.D. Spencer Fire, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor | Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences | Florida Tech


Dr. Fire's research program combines an interest in the very smallest and the very largest organisms in the sea.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Wildlife Toxicology

Marine Mammals

Harmful Algal Blooms

Marine Biotoxins

Red Tide


Spencer Fire's research program combines an interest in the very smallest and the very largest organisms in the sea (and occasionally a few in between). From single-celled marine algae (phytoplankton) to shellfish, finfish, sea turtles, humans and marine mammals such as baleen whales, the interactions between these organism can tell us much about the status of our oceans' health.

Dr. Fire's current research focuses on the impacts of harmful algal blooms and their toxins on marine food webs and the health of sentinel organisms such as marine mammals. To carry out this work, Dr. Fire and his students focus on three core areas:

1. Developing and using molecular detection methods to investigate how natural contaminants move through marine food webs,

2. Drawing on field experience with small cetaceans and pinnipeds, as well as knowledge of field survey methods, to study marine mammal health and behavior in the wild,

3. Combining a knowledge of large-scale oceanographic processes with laboratory and field methods to study changing marine ecosystems and their links to wildlife and human health.

Media Assets




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Media Appearances (5)

Florida Tech’s Marine Science Students Examines Red Tide’s Effect on Dolphins in Gulf of Mexico

Space Coast Daily News  


Florida Tech ocean engineering and marine sciences assistant professor Spencer Fire’s paper, “Association between red tide exposure and detection of corresponding neurotoxins in bottlenose dolphins from Texas waters during 2007–2017,” was released this month.

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Algae's toxin remains in dolphins livers, even when not blooming

Florida Today  


"We're not making any conclusions about what it's doing to them," said Spencer Fire, an assistant professor at Florida Tech. The study for the first time establishes a baseline level of the toxin in lagoon dolphins by which to compare future toxin levels during dolphin strandings or die-offs.

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Whales change their tunes when ships appear



Despite these caveats, Spencer Fire, assistant professor in Florida Tech’s Department of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences, described the new research as “solid.”

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Florida Tech to study toxic algae impact on dolphins

Florida Today  


"Anything you see happening to the health of these populations would indicate a risk to human populations," said Spencer Fire, an assistant professor of biological sciences at FIT who will conduct the research.

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Dolphin health is connected to human well-being



Florida Institute of Technology assistant professor Spencer Fire and researchers from lead agency Georgia Aquarium and other conservation partners recently completed a study to better understand the health of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the IRL, and the data collected from the dolphins is expected to help researchers understand how toxic algal blooms can harm wildlife.

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Education (3)

University of California Santa Cruz: Ph.D., Ocean Sciences 2007

Brigham Young University: B.S., Zoology 2000

University of California Santa Cruz: M.S., Marine Science 2002


Selected Articles (5)

Marine algal toxins and their vectors in southern California cetaceans

Harmful Algae


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Utility of Red Tide (Karenia brevis) Monitoring Data as a Predictive Tool to Estimate Brevetoxin Accumulation in Live, Free-Ranging Marine Mammals

Frontiers in Marine Science


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An assessment of temporal, spatial and taxonomic trends in harmful algal toxin exposure in stranded marine mammals from the U.S. New England coast



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Antarctic ecosystem responses following ice-shelf collapse and iceberg calving: Science review and future research

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change


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Association between red tide exposure and detection of corresponding neurotoxins in bottlenose dolphins from Texas waters during 2007–2017

Marine Environmental Research


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Languages (1)

  • Spanish