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New robotic instruments to provide real-time data on Gulf of Maine red tide
Date:5/7/2013

Alexandrium bloom season in the western Gulf of Maine and the first time the algal neurotoxin responsible for PSP will be autonomously measured by an ESP in natural waters.

The project scientists want the ESPs to become an integral part of the regional ocean observatory network managed by the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), which currently consists of 12 instrumented buoys that measure currents, salinity, temperature and meteorological variables at multiple locations in the Gulf of Maine and Long Island Sound.

"The ESPs are not a replacement for state-run programs that monitor naturally occurring marine toxins in shellfish. Instead, they will provide valuable data on the phytoplankton cells and associated toxins in coastal waters giving managers a more complete picture of the magnitude and distribution of HAB events," says Kohl Kanwit, director of the Bureau of Public Health for the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Since bloom toxicity can fluctuate substantially and in turn influence toxin levels in shellfish, this capability represents a significant step towards assessing the potential of a bloom to cause shellfish toxicity. The toxin detection capability is being implemented through the joint efforts of Greg Doucette of NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), who developed the PSP toxin sensor, and Juliette Smith, a postdoctoral investigator in Anderson's laboratory. Funding has been provided by NOAA's National Ocean Service and from the MIT Sea Grant program.

"Developing this technology and transitioning it to field testing with academic and industry partners in the Gulf of Maine is the next step in delivering and validating routine forecasts," says Doucette. "This pilot will demonstrate the ability of ESPs to deliver accurate and critical data to regional resource managers. This is an excellent example of federal, academic, and industry collabora
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