2014 Bloom Season
The presence of an Alexandrium bloom in the western GOM was evident both in ESP data and survey data, with a strong spike of 1000-2000 cells/L in the western Gulf of Maine starting during the 3rd week in May, followed by another strong peak in early June as the bloom continued thru mid-June and declined thereafter. ESP data showed high variability from day to day, likely due to the patchy nature of the population flowing by the mooring.
2014 Status Reports
All 3 ESPs have insufficient power now to run the hab assays. ESPjake was the last to go offline yesterday. ESP-1 (don) and ESP-2 (jake) have been reprogrammed and are currently acquiring CTD data through the end of June before mooring recovery in early July. ESP-3 (dennis) was also reprogrammed and was recording both CTD data and SUNA (nitrate) data, but we have now lost contact with ESPdennis, suggesting that there is no power left to transmit the CTD data. The others may follow suit...but have each completed their missions well.
We have attached the last plot of the ESP data for the 2014 bloom season...it was very hard work, but also fun to provide the regional community with this service. Hope you found it helpful and interesting,
Without including a long list of people to thank...Please realize that MBARI stood with us closely here in the Anderson Lab at WHOI and really helped see each ESP mission through to its final completion...Thank-you Chris, Roman, and Brent for that excellent support.
We are into week 7 and are now winding down with the 3 ESP deployments in the western Gulf of Maine. ESP-3 (dennis) deployed off of Pemaquid Point has now run out of power and could not successfully complete any assays this week. ESP-1 (don) woke up today and could not complete the sampling after several tries to restart, so he is also done for the season. ESP-2 (jake) was programmed to sample 4 assays/week to accommodate the saxitoxin (stx) assay instead of 5 hab assays/week, so he has just a little more power to continue to work for now, but may suffer the same fate soon. We've had a really good run this year with all 3 ESPs working through the 2014 bloom conditions, but please see ground truth results below...the bloom is still ongoing.
Here's the ESP update on June 19, 2014.
ESP-1 (don) did not detect any Alexandrium signals on the arrays earlier this week, but ESPdon's mission is now done for the season. Good job don!
ESP-2 (jake) continues to work and detected a weak signal on Tuesday that was just below the stated ESP detection limit of 100 cells/Liter for a 4 Liter sample. Go jake!
ESP-3 (dennis) could not complete any hab assays this week due to insufficient power and is also done for the season. Good job dennis!
The ESP ground truth survey was completed on R/V Tioga early this week June 15-17...the live count results agreed with the mooring data and show very few cells right at the mooring sites. However, the broader scale survey data clearly indicate that this season's Alexandrium bloom is not over yet. Lurking just offshore of ESP-2 (jake) and ESP-3 (dennis), the live count data show 1000-2000 cells/Liter along both the Casco Bay and Pemaquid transects, primarily small Alexandrium cells. Further south and west along the NERACOOS B transect and the Cape Ann transect very few cells were detected. A weak patch offshore (~200 cells/L) of Cape Ann may be a remnant of the pulse of cells that transited the area last week. Please see the attached plot of the live count data from the recent Ti758 ESP survey.
Here's the last data points for the week that were returned from all 3 ESPs today, Friday, June 13, 2014.
ESP-1 (don) bounced back to about 300 cells/L today after being blanked yesterday.
ESP-2 (jake) sampled today and reported about 150-200 cells/L, a decline from earlier in the week.
ESP-3 (dennis) reported in at about 300 cells/L...a decline from the sharp rise yesterday, but still significant in that it indicates A. fundyense cells are still being transported into the western Gulf of Maine.
An ESP ground truth survey will start on Sunday morning to sample 3 transects with a visit to all 3 ESP moorings, plus one extra transect that has been added offshore of Cape Ann.
Here's the latest ESP data that just came in from today's run on June 12, 2014...
ESP-1 (don) near NERACOOS B was blanked as no NA1 spots were detected on the array.
ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay did not sample today.
ESP-3 (dennis) off of Pemaquid Point had a solid NA1 hit on the array that was calculated to be in the range of 500-600 cells/L for A. catenella. Please note that ESPdennis is located upstream in the coastal flow, so the areas downstream (e.g. ESPjake and ESPdon) may see another peak soon.
Power is dwindling, so we hope the ESPs keep up the good work into next week.
Here's today's ESP results on Wednesday, June 11, 2014...
ESP-1(don) near NERACOOS B continued to decline with today's Alexandrium estimate coming in at just over 200 cells/L.
ESP-2 (jake) was back in action in Casco Bay with estimates at about 300 cells/L....a slight decline from Monday's result.
ESP-3 (dennis) continued to stay in the 100-200 cells/L range for the 3rd successive day.
Here's the latest ESP results as of today, Tuesday, June 10, 2014...
ESP-1 (don) near NERACOOS B declined slightly and is now estimated to be in the 200-300 cells/L range.
ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay did not sample.
ESP-3 (dennis) off Pemiquid Point maintained the same hab signal as yesterday...estimated to be in the 100-200 cells/L range.
Here's the latest ESP results as of Monday, June 9, 2014...
All 3 ESPs worked today and reported positive hits for A. catenella as we start the 6th week of operations.
ESP-1 (don) near NERACOOS B reported almost 400 cells/L today (June 9), down from the 500-700 cells/L range reported last week.
ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay was in action today and reported a solid signal in the range of 400-500 cells/L, back up from a dip last week.
ESP-3 (dennis) off of Pemaquid Point also reported a positive signal in the 100-200 cells/L range after being totally blanked last Friday.
With a final ground truth survey scheduled starting June 15, we're hoping the batteries hold on...power usage estimates indicate we have another 10 days or so of operations remaining.
Will send the latest update each day this week,
Here's the latest ESP update for the week with all 3 ESPs sampling today (June 6)...
ESP-1 (don) near NERACOOS B returned another hit on the hab array in a similar range as yesterday...calculated to be about 500-600 cells/Liter.
ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay returned a weak hit in the 100-200 cells/Liter range.
ESP-3 (dennis) off of Pemiquid Point was blanked with no visible spots on the array...a drop from its consistent string of positives recorded since May 23.
Here's the latest update from the ESPs on June 5, 2014...
ESP-1(don) near NERACOOS B indicated a solid hit today (Thursday) on the hab array with an increase to almost 700 cells/L of A. catenella, while ESP-3 (dennis) off of Pemaquid Point showed another slight uptick with the most recent estimate now in the 200-300 cells/L range. With today's results, both ESPs have now reached the highest estimates so far this season at those specific mooring sites.
ESP-2 (jake) was idle today...all 3 ESPs will be sampling tomorrow (Friday) with the results available late in the day as the weekend begins,
Stay tuned as things are changing by the day,
All 3 ESPs sampled today (June 4, 2014). Here's the daily update...
ESP-1 (don) and ESP-2(jake) dropped from the 300-500 cells/Liter range observed earlier in the week to <200 cells/L.
ESP-3 (dennis) has consistently reported in the 100-150 cell/Liter range since May 23. Today's result indicated a slight uptick reporting in at about 200 cells/Liter.
Here's the ESP update for today (June 3, 2014)...
ESP-1 (don) and ESP-3 (jake) detected a concentration of A. catenella in a similar range as reported yesterday...300-400 cells/Liter and 100-150 cells/Liter, respectively.
ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay did not sample today, but will sample again both Wednesday and Friday this week.
Following a weekend of rest to conserve resources, the 3 ESPs deployed 1 month ago in the western GOM worked flawlessly today (Jun 2, 2014) and just flipped up their latest results to the WHOI server...
ESP-1 (don) near NERACOOS B and ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay both showed a significant increase in the NA1 A. catenella probe signal, back up from late last week, with the estimates off the "hab" array coming in at 367 cells/Liter and almost 500 cells/L, respectively.
ESP-3 (dennis) is also consistently indicating about 100-150 cells/Liter off Pemaquid Point.
The MUD2 probe (1 of 4 Pseudo-nitzschia probes on the array) has shown a few positive hits recently, but was blank for today's run at all 3 sites.
Meanwhile, we're watching the situation closely and may mount another ground truth survey on Tioga before our scheduled cruise of June 14-18.
Please stay tuned as we will provide timely results to you each day when the latest data are transferred to the server and analyzed.
Here's the latest ESP results as of yesterday (May 29, 2014)...All 3 ESPs have just started up today, but those results will not be available until this evening.
-->ESP-1 (don) deployed near NERACOOS B was blanked showing no spots on the array for A. catenella. There was a weak hit for the MUD2 probe.
-->ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay did not sample.
-->ESP-3 (dennis) deployed offshore of Pemaquid point continues to record a weak but consistent signal estimated to be in the 100-150 cells/Liter for A. catenella range. The MUD2 probe also indicated a weakly positive signal.
We'll keep the info coming as the ESPs work hard...to stretch the 3 missions into June, all 3 ESPs are taking the weekend off,
The latest ESP results just came up to the server for today (May 30, 2014)...
All 3 ESPs continue to indicate positive signals for A. catenella in the range of 100-200 cells/Liter.
...and ESP-2 (jake) showed a weak hit for the MUD2 probe (1 of 4 Pseudo-nitzschia sp probes on the array).
Here's the latest ESP results as of yesterday (May 28, 2014).
-->ESP-1 (don) deployed near NERACOOS B detected a return of the A. catenella population in the 300 cells/L range after the spike in the population last week.
-->ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay also showed a slight uptick to ~200 cells/Liter after the spike last week.
-->ESP-3 (dennis) deployed offshore of Pemaquid point, had some technical difficulties yesterday. Thanks to the engineers at MBARI, ESPdennis' run was recovered. No positive A. catenella signals were observed on the compromised "hab" array (not plotted). However, the MUD2 probe (1 of 4 Pseudo-nitzschia probes on the array) did show positive hits.
We are now into the 4th week of the ESP time series at the 3 mooring locations, about 1/2 through the 3 missions. Here's the latest update following the Memorial Holiday weekend.
All 3 ESPs sampled autonomously on both Friday (May 23) and Monday (May 26). ESP-1 (don) and ESP-2 (jake) have returned from the A. catenella levels detected last week (500-700 cells/Liter) to levels that are now below background. Upstream in the coastal flow, ESP-3 (dennis) is showing successive positive signals with the estimate of the A. catenella concentration coming in low, but above background, at about 120 cells/L.
...and of course, Please stay tuned for further updates,
Bruce (Research Associate in the Anderson Lab)
As a follow-up to the ESP results provided earlier today, I've attached a map of the station locations with Alexandrium sp. "Live" counts posted at each station.
Within the Alexandrium bloom, many Alexandrium ostenfeldii cells co-ocurred with A. catenella in the samples. At sea, we tried to separate the species, but that is a difficult task and better solved with nucleic acid probes so the total Alexandrium sp. cell concentration is provided. From the microscope observations, the A. ostenfeldii population appeared to be about 50% of the total cells shown based on the presence of a food vacuole in many of the A. ostenfeldii specimens. The NA1 Alexandrium probe (North American ribotype) used on the ESPs is specific for Alexandrium catenella in this region and does not cross-react with A. ostenfeldii.
Please note that the ESP-1 (don) transect was occupied on the first day of the survey (May 20) when the ESP-1 was not detecting any Alexandrium catenella cells at that mooring site which agreed with the survey results. However, the next day the signal from ESPdon rose rapidly and we did not re-occupy that site. The observation from ESP-1 indicates the population likely was transported from east to west across that mooring site on Day 2. The source population coming into the region appears to be tracking along the Maine coast between ESP-3 (dennis) off Pemaquid Point and NERACOOS E near Monhegan Island.
And finally to demonstrate the east to west transport of the population in the Maine coastal current system ...working with Jim Manning (NOAA), a middle school in Newburyport, MA built and provided a drifter that was launched from R/V Tioga into the Alexandrium patch on the easternmost (ESP-3 dennis) transect on the last day of the ESP survey. A second drifter made by a Wells, ME high school is onboard Tioga and will be released into the region soon.
Here's the link for the first drifter track...complements of Jim, the teachers and the kids...Jim et al will fill you in about that program in an upcoming message.
The 3 ESPs deployed in the western Gulf of Maine continued to work hard this week while we were ground truth sampling in the region on Tuesday (May 20), Wednesday (May 21), and Thursday (May 22).
Results show a rapid increase in the Alexandrium catenella population in the range of 500-700 cells/Liter at ESP-1 (don) near NERACOOS B and ESP-2 (jake) at the mouth of Casco Bay.
Live counts of Alexandrium sp. at the mooring sites and in the adjacent offshore region confirm the validity of the ESP estimates of the population, but were confounded by the presence of Alexandrium ostenfeldii. The NA1 probe is specific for A. catenella in the Gulf of Maine and does not detect A. ostenfeldii. The lack of detection on the hab array at ESP-3 (dennis) off Pemiquid Point is correct as well. Few Alexandrium cells were observed at that site, but just 2.5 nautical miles further offshore, a significant number of Alexandrium cells (hundreds/L) were detected by the live count method. This suggests that the bloom is coming into the region between NERACOOS E and ESP-3 and intensifies further downstream in the Kennebec River plume.
Bruce Keafer (Research Associate in the Anderson Lab)
All 3 ESPs worked flawlessly this week for the hab assay including today's run (Friday).
Earlier this week, we had a solid hit for the NA1 Alexandrium catenella probe on ESP-1 (don) near NERACOOS B. That result was about 200 cells/L, but that signal went away the following day and has not returned today either...The latest results from ESP-3 (dennis) offshore of Pemaquid Point also returned a blank result.
ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay returned a weak positive signal for the NA1 A.fundyense probe, but those spots were not quantifiable (below the <100 cells/Liter detection limit).
To make things even more interesting in Casco Bay, ESP-2 (jake) also returned a positive hit on the hab array for the Psuedo-nitzschia MUD2 probe on both Wed and Friday this week. For an explanation from the collaborating Pseudo-nitzschia expert, Kate Hubbard, formerly from the Anderson lab, and now at Florida Fisheries and Wildlife Institute in St.Petersburg, please see her comments in italics below:
While the positive MUD2 signal on ESPjake confirms the presence of Pseudo-nitzschia in Casco Bay, we cannot determine which species produced the positive hit at this time. The ESP hab array used in the Gulf of Maine deployments currently has four different probes targeting Pseudo-nitzschia. The MUD2 probe is not specific to a single species. Instead, this probe can pick up P. multiseries, as well as species in the P. pseudodelicatissima and P. delicatissima complexes. The other Pseudo-nitzschia probes on the array were negative, which allows us to rule out a few toxic species, including P. multiseries and P. seriata. Additional genetic testing using samples collected during the upcoming ground-truth surveys will identify which Pseudo-nitzschia species are currently in the region.
Next week, we will be conducting ground-truth sampling from the R/V Tioga and plan to sample at the mooring sites and along several transects running offshore from the ESP mooring sites and we'll report those results later next week.
Bruce Keafer and Kate Hubbard
ESP-1 mooring near the NERACOOS B site indicated a solid positive hit on today's hab array. The estimate of the A. catenella population calculated from the lab-generated standard curve was 205 cells/L, the highest signal from the ESPs so far this bloom season. That's still low, but consistent with Chris Nash's report of 2 of 3 mice killed from samples near the Isle of Shoals, only 15 nautical miles to the south of ESP-1.
The other two ESPs (in Casco Bay and offshore of Pemiquid Point) have generally continued to show some very weak positives near detection limits (<100 cells/L).
Note that we are gearing up for a ground truth survey next week (May 20-24) that will sample at all 3 ESP mooring sites and also collect samples from stations along 2-3 transects further offshore from the mooring locations.
Bruce Keafer (Research Associate in the Anderson lab)
Laboratory for Ocean Sensors and Observing Systems (LOSOS)
Hab assays just started on all 3 ESPs, but those results will not be available until late this afternoon, so I just wanted to provide this update before the weekend.
All 3 ESPs continued to run hab assays during the week...but we have not been able to remotely fix the stx issue reported on ESP-2 (jake) in Casco Bay.
At this time, ESP-1 with ESPdon onboard deployed near NERACOOS B is the only ESP showing consistent spots with derived values above 100 cells/Liter, just above the ESP lower limit of detection.
The initial ESP results from week 1 agree with reports from ME, NH, and MA that indicate little to no shellfish toxicity to date in the western Gulf of Maine. However, Chris Nash (NH) recently reported 3 mice killed near the Isle of Shoals...ESP-1 is located about 15nm north of their Star Island collection site. The results also agree with the presence of very low population of A. catenella observed at ESP-1 and ESP-2 during deployment.
To save resources and stretch the mission into late June, the ESP's will generally not be sampling over the weekends.
Bruce Keafer (Research Associate in the Anderson lab)
Laboratory for Ocean Sensors and Observing Systems (LOSOS)
This is the first message of the spring bloom season that reports the status of the ESP remote hab detection efforts in the western Gulf of Maine.
After a weather delay last week, we finally cruised offshore over the weekend and successfully deployed 3 ESP moorings into the coastal waters of western Maine. Using WHOI's 60 ft. coastal vessel, the R/V Tioga, operations were staged out of the UNH coastal facility near Portsmouth, NH to reach each of the 3 sites (see map).
The great news!...All 3 moorings are working for the primary "hab" mission that will extend into mid-late June. ESP-1 (ESPdon) near NERACOOS B returned a couple of very weak positive signals for the presence of Alexandrium catenella (not quantifiable because the result is just below the lower limit of detection). ESP-2 (ESPjake) also returned one very weak A. catenella signal in Casco Bay. ESP-3 (ESPdennis) is currently not showing any indication of the presence of A. catenella species on the array. Live microscope counts of Alexandrium sp. at each deployment site were 36, 26, and 0 cells/L for ESP-1, -2, -3, respectively, in agreement with the initial ESP results. From lab standard curves using a cultured CA29 strain of A. catenella, the lower limit of detection of the ESPs is in the 50-100 cells/L range.
Pseudo-nitzschia sp. cells have not been observed; either as spots on the arrays or under the scope at any of the moorings so far.
Unfortunately, there is a little bit of bad news...from Greg Doucette (NOAA/NOS)... "We are currently experiencing an issue with proper delivery of the sample extract to the stx assay on ESPjake; troubleshooting will continue and we are hopeful that the problem can be resolved."
Back at the WHOI ESP lab (part of the Anderson Lab), we are now working towards deployment of ESP-4 (ESProman). That deployment location has not yet been determined but will depend on the development of the bloom conditions over the next few weeks.
This was a total team effort between the Anderson lab at WHOI and all the partnered organizations that made this happen, including the Federal funding agencies from NOAA's NCCOS and IOOS programs and additional support from the Tom and Robin Wheeler sponsorship of the ESP lab.
Foremost, without MBARI's continual support (Chris Scholin et al.) and their ESP expertise (particularly Roman Marin and Brent Roman) this effort would not be possible. ESP builders, McLane Research, Inc. (Tom Fougere and Ivory Engstrom) were always quick to help solve problems and support the mission. EOM offshore, Inc. (John Kemp et al) built out 2 new ESP mooring systems this past year and delivered them on time to make this effort come together as planned. ESP Licensee, Spyglass Technologies Inc. supplied all the hab reagents for the deployments. Greg Doucette and Jinkeng Asong (NOAA/NOS, Charleston, SC) worked very hard to implement and improve the stx toxin assay. At WHOI, engineers Keith Von Der Heydt and Neil McPhee built and tested the communication systems for each ESP mooring and also worked with Brent and Roman (the two "Romans" at MBARI) to troubleshoot and implement hardware and software upgrades. Special thanks goes to the experienced mooring deployment crew (Will Ostrom, Neil McPhee) for their strong effort helping to prep the mooring for success and to the Captain (Ken Houtler) and mate (Ian) of the Tioga for their commitment to this project and patience to make sure the moorings were deployed safely despite a very tight schedule and the weather delays. And finally, I really appreciate the dedication and hard work of my Northeastern University co-op student, Ethan Edson, who has been with me since January to help move the project from the bench to the water. After many long extra hours, Ethan still wants to continue on after his graduation with a graduate project in ocean science and engineering. He is the future.
We'll keep you updated as the data come in,
Research Associate (Anderson Lab)
Laboratory for Ocean Sensors and Observing Systems (LOSOS)