Toxic Texas Bloom Event Tracked by New Instrument and Forecasting System
A widespread Karenia brevis bloom that began in September 2009 is causing coughing and respiratory irritation to humans and extensive fish kills along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Early warning of the bloom was provided by National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) researchers using a newly developed instrument, the Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB).
Monitoring of the extent, location, and likely spread of this toxic bloom is continuing through the Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting System Texas Demonstration Project, run by NCCOS scientists. Texas Parks & Wildlife TXHAB Working Group, Sea Grant Extension Agents, and the Texas State Department of Health Services were alerted.
The instrument can identify phytoplankton remotely, using a combination of cell imaging and video technology. It was developed with funding provided by NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology and the Ecology and Oceanography of HABs Program funds its continued operation.
Advanced warning of HAB events is crucial in order to minimize the impacts to human health and economies, and can be achieved through continued support of research, tool development, and forecasting abilities.