Event Response Award Restores Monitoring Instrument Critical to Texas State Response to toxic Dinophysis event
By the end of April 2010, a harmful bloom of Dinophysis ovum and Dinophysis caudata had produced high levels of the toxin okadaic acid in Texas shellfish, forcing the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to close the oyster harvest and the majority of state coastal waters to any shellfish harvesting. The bloom was first detected by the lab-based sampling device known as the Imaging Flow Cytobot (IFCB), which tested water sampled at the pier at Port Aransas, Texas. Daily updates on Dinophysis abundance from the IFCB helped state officials evaluate the ongoing bloom and assess the risk to public health. DSHS used daily IFCB updates on Dinophysis abundance to help plan their shellfish testing, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department used the data to focus water sampling. Seven days after the closure was issued the IFCB computer failed and the system would not reboot. This compromised the state’s ability to determine when it was safe to re-open the oyster harvest. Given that rapid intoxification and detoxification of shellfish had been noted in a 2008 Texas Dinophysis event, the lack of continuous monitoring data for even a few days could be costly to the Texas shellfish industry. Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR) Harmful Algal Bloom Event Response funds allowed for a successful operation that quickly diagnosed and replaced damaged computer components in the IFCB. Support from CSCOR enabled the IFCB to be put back in service to support the Texas HAB response effort in 2010 and in 2011.