A grant from the Ocean Reef Conservation Association (ORCA) to the Marine Resources Development Foundation enabled expansion of NOAA's Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN) monitoring sites in the Florida Keys. The Marine Resources Development Foundation has been an active volunteer group with PMN since 2012. With this ORCA grant and technical guidance from PMN, the Marine Resources Development Foundation was able to purchase five advanced digital microscopes. These digital microscopes allow faster communication between volunteer groups and the PMN office providing quality assurance of identification of potentially harmful algae, which will result in stronger early warnings of harmful algal blooms.
The community members involved in this project include local students ranging from 4th grade to high school and Coast Guard Auxiliary members. Fifty volunteers now participate in the Florida Keys increasing monitoring capacity from 1 to 16 sites.
The volunteer monitoring sites are located on both the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay side of the island chain to allow comparisons of mangrove and coral reef ecosystems. The expansion of NOAA's Phytoplankton Monitoring Network into the Florida Keys will also provide early warning to the movement of Karenia brevis blooms from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Florida Current.
For additional information. contact Steve.Morton@noaa.gov.