Tag Archives: gulf of maine

New Sensor Array to Monitor Impacts of Changing Gulf of Maine Conditions on New England Red Tide

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are kicking off an innovative NOAA-funded pilot program using robotic instruments and computer modeling analysis to shed light on changing ocean conditions in the Gulf of Maine as they relate to the harmful algal bloom (HAB) phenomenon commonly known as the New England red tide.

The red tide is caused by the germination of dormant cysts of alga called Alexandrium fundyense, which produces a toxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). These cysts are found in bottom sediments and near-bottom waters, accumulating in “seedbeds” that serve as the source of swimming, rapidly dividing cells that form the blooms each spring. (more…)

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New Robotic Instruments to Provide Real-Time Data on Gulf of Maine Red Tide

Deployment could lead transformation of toxic HAB monitoring

A new robotic sensor deployed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Gulf of Maine coastal waters may transform the way red tides or harmful algal blooms (HABs) are monitored and managed in New England. The instrument was launched at the end of last month, and a second such system will be deployed later this spring.

The results will add critical data to weekly real-time forecasts of New England red tide this year distributed to more than 150 coastal resource and fisheries managers in six states as well as federal agencies such as NOAA, the FDA and the EPA. Researchers also plan to add data from the sensor to regular updates  provided on the “Current Status” page of the Northeast PSP website. (more…)

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Research Enables Fishermen to Harvest Lucrative Shellfish on Georges Bank

Combined research efforts by scientists involved in the Gulf of Maine Toxicity (GOMTOX) project, funded by NOAA’s Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) program, and administered by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), have led to enhanced understanding of toxic algal blooms on Georges Bank.   This new information, coupled with an at-sea and dockside testing protocol developed through collaboration between GOMTOX and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators, has allowed fishermen to harvest ocean quahogs and surf clams in these offshore waters for the first time in more than two decades.

The shellfish industry estimates the Georges Bank fishery can produce up to 1 million bushels of surf clams and ocean quahogs a year, valued $10 – 15 million annually. “There is a billion dollars’ worth of shellfish product on Georges Bank that is property of the United States but that can’t be harvested because of the threat of toxicity, and 99.9% of the time, it is good wholesome product,” says Dave Wallace of North Atlantic Clam Association and a GOMTOX participant.  “In an unusual and unique partnership, we worked with GOMTOX scientists, the FDA, and the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware and now that huge resource can go into commerce, which helps the entire country.” (more…)

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Researchers Issue Forecast for ‘Moderate’ New England Red Tide in 2013

New England is expected to experience a “moderate” red tide this spring and summer, report NOAA-funded scientists studying the toxic algae that cause blooms in the Gulf of Maine. The “red tide” is caused by an alga Alexandrium fundyense, which produces a toxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).  Red tide typically occurs annually along some portions of the Gulf of Maine coast.  This year’s outlook is similar to the 2012 red tide which was also classified as “moderate.”

As with the past five forecasts for this region, the 2013 outlook is based on the quantities of the A. fundyense in its cyst (dormant) state detected in Gulf of Maine sediments last fall. These data are combined with a computer model to produce a range of bloom scenarios based on previous years’ conditions. This year, the team also used a forecast of toxicity impact developed from 34 years of historical data as part of the 2013 outlook.  The 2013 bloom is expected to fall somewhere in the middle in terms of toxicity impact, justifying a “moderate” forecast done by the established method.  (more…)

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New Study Reveals How Sensitive U.S. East Coast Regions May Be to Ocean Acidification

A continental-scale chemical survey in the waters of the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico is helping researchers determine how distinct bodies of water will resist changes in acidity. The study, which measures varying levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other forms of carbon in the ocean, was conducted by scientists from 11 institutions across the U.S. and was published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.

“Before now, we haven’t had a very clear picture of acidification status on the east coast of the U.S.,” says Zhaohui ‘Aleck’ Wang, the study’s lead author and a chemical oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “It’s important that we start to understand it, because increase in ocean acidity could deeply affect marine life along the coast and has important implications for people who rely on aquaculture and fisheries both commercially and recreationally.” (more…)

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Scientists Use Marine Robots to Detect Endangered Whales

Two robots equipped with instruments designed to “listen” for the calls of baleen whales detected nine endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of Maine last month. The robots reported the detections to shore-based researchers within hours of hearing the whales (i.e., in real time), demonstrating a new and powerful tool for managing interactions between whales and human activities.

The team of researchers, led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists Mark Baumgartner and Dave Fratantoni, reported their sightings to NOAA, the federal agency responsible for enforcing the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NOAA Fisheries Service, in turn, put in place on Dec. 5 a “dynamic management area,” asking mariners to voluntarily slow their vessel speed to avoid striking the animals. (more…)

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Researchers Report Potential for a “Moderate” New England “Red Tide” in 2012

New England is expected to experience a “moderate” regional “red tide” this spring and summer, report NOAA-funded scientists working in the Gulf of Maine to study the toxic algae that causes the bloom. The algae in the water pose no direct threat to human beings, however the toxins they produce can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams— which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans who consume them.

Under a newly developed rating system, a moderate bloom could cause the closure of shellfish beds along an estimated 126 – 250 miles of coastline. (more…)

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Prey-tell: Why Right Whales Linger in the Gulf of Maine

As they might with most endangered animals, scientists consider the whereabouts and activities of right whales extremely important.  “It is helpful to know where they go, why they go there and what they do when they’re there,” says Mark F. Baumgartner of the biology department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Baumgartner and his colleagues studied the behavior of right whales and sei whales—both endangered species of baleen whales—in the waters of the Gulf of Maine to the east of Nantucket. They found that the location, the length of stay, and perhaps the very abundance of the whales may be dependent on an interesting vertical migration pattern by the copepods on which the whales feed. It seems to be a case, he said, of “how the behavior of the prey influences the behavior of the whales.” (more…)

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