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Monitoring in Casco Bay, Maine, during Alexandrium HAB Event

Sentinel mussel bags placed on monitoring buoy. Photo courtesy of Maine DMR

Sentinel mussel bags placed on monitoring buoy. (Credit: Maine Department of Marine Resources)

In June 2006, the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Event Response Program provided funding to the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to extend their Casco Bay buoy monitoring program, which augmented regular DMR sampling for five additional weeks. As part of their monitoring program, Maine DMR, in partnership with Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, measured Alexandrium abundance and sampled toxin accumulation in sentinel mussel bags placed at the edges of shellfish resource areas. Event Response funding allowed the fine-scale sampling to continue through the peak of the 2006 Alexandrium bloom. Overall, the novel monitoring program enabled managers to maintain over 11,000 acres open for soft-shell clam harvest that would have otherwise been closed. Managers used the successful demonstration of the fine-scale monitoring program to convince Maine leaders to allocate a portion of the 2005 HAB Federal Disaster Relief funds for sustainment and expansion of this monitoring effort through 2008 and into other bays. The project may also serve as a pilot for future large-scale inshore monitoring programs. Also, the data will provide a critical link between inshore shellfish toxicity and local and offshore Alexandrium abundance that can be incorporated into models to predict shellfish toxicity.

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