Harmful Algal Blooms or HABs

A harmful algal bloom (HAB) group at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution uses this region’s buoy data to guide its tracks at sea while conducting both research and HAB alert cruises in the Gulf of Maine. These data proved crucial in developing community response and state and federal shellfish closures during the historic 2005 paralytic shellfish poisoning event and are now used every year to predict HABs, often called red tides.

Scientists are working to improve identification of a toxic algae known as Alexandrium fundyense in the Bay of Fundy, located between Maine and Canada. The species causes harmful algal blooms and is notoriously difficult to identify and track. But new technologies, such as the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), are helping researchers create an early warning system to
predict potential shellfish poisoning dangers along the coast. The EPA is supplying experimental ESP sensors to be deployed on the NERACOOS buoys for the 2010 season. NERACOOS is helping to support these efforts by contributing to the operation of the experimental ESP sensors.

The ESP measurements will be sent in real time to NOAA offices concerned with PSP, including the Coastal Service Center’s Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting System, in addition to state governmental agencies concerned with PSP, such as the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and Maine Department of Marine Resources.



Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution

Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries Shellfish Sanitation Program
Maine Department of Marine Resources Biotoxin Monitoring Program
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Shellfish Monitoring Program