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2017 California Estuary Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring Begins

Last month, NCCOS-sponsored scientists began harmful algae and algal toxin monitoring in California estuaries. The monitoring is part of a collaborative NOAA–state response to recent research showing that a mixture of marine and freshwater toxins can reside in estuarine waters. The research found that this toxic “cocktail” could also be fatal to shellfish, sea otters, and other animals in these habitats.

The team will survey estuarine and coastal waters from the Klamath estuary in Northern California to the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve and several San Diego estuaries in Southern California throughout 2017. At each of more than 10 sampling locations, the team will measure a suite of parameters (total toxin, dissolved toxin, dissolved nutrients, chlorophyll a, phytoplankton species/genera identification, temperature, pH, and alkalinity). They will also deploy passive sampling devices called Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Tracking (SPATT) samplers at most locations. These samplers are mesh bags suspended in estuarine water and filled with tiny porous resin beads that adsorb algal toxin. SPATT devices are widely used to detect and quantify marine and freshwater toxins, and are more sensitive than other water quality monitoring techniques, such as water samples and mussel tissue analysis.

Through this work, NCCOS and its California partners aim to improve the monitoring tools used to study the ecosystem impacts of harmful algal blooms (HABs), to assess public health risks from marine and freshwater toxins, and to develop new strategies to mitigate HABs in California’s coastal estuaries. The team will share preliminary project findings at next month’s 2017 Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) meeting.

The NCCOS Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) program supports California estuary HAB monitoring by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the University of California Santa Cruz, the University of Southern California, and the U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substance Hydrology Program. Key collaborators include the Yurok Tribe, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System, the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Sea Grant, and the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

For more information, contact Marc Suddleson.

Also, see NCCOS’s related project page: Improving Tools for Monitoring Multiple HAB Toxins at the Land-Sea Interface in Coastal California.

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Shorter web link for sharing: https://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=20496