Enhanced monitoring of harmful algal bloom dynamics and toxicity using real-time observations from co-deployed, automated biosensors

Massachusetts coasts and bays are frequently plagued by harmful algal blooms (HABs) whose toxins wind up in local clams, mussels and other filter-feeding organisms. As a result, the state must order closings of commercially important shellfish beds during HABs to avoid outbreaks of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) among consumers. In this project, the investigators will apply two automated biosensors — the Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB) and Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) — to capture complementary data streams to provide a continuous record of the complete bloom cycle of A. fundyense, a common cause of red tide and PSP. Co-deployment of these two instruments will be used to monitor the development and decline of a localized A. fundyense bloom in a drowned kettle pond in the Nauset Marsh estuary. In addition to insights into the biology of A. fundyense, this testing will help McLane Research Laboratories, the Massachusetts-based manufacturer of both the IFCB and ESP, make these sophisticated biosensors commercially available to oceanographers.