Here's the update from ESPchris during this past week's effort to collect "ground truth" samples at the mooring site...
From water samples collected next to ESPchris, no Alexandrium fundyense cells were microscopically observed at the mooring site on either Tuesday or Wednesday (May 14-15). Given the lack of cells at the moored instrument, we mounted a 7-station cross-shore transect on Thursday May 16 that extended from inshore of ESP-1 near Cape Neddick just to the east of Jeffries Ledge--about 30nm offshore. Samples for Alexandrium fundyense, Pseudo-nitzschia sp. and nutrients were collected. Live counts were completed from surface samples collected at each station while underway. No Alexandrium fundyense cells were observed from those samples either. A few colonies of large Pseudo-nitzschia sp. were present, but only in the sample from the mooring site.
ESPchris continues to sample each day and even sampled 2-3 times per day while we were on site collecting samples. The remote results sent from ESPchris this week generally agreed with the ground truth samples. While ESPchris did return weak positive Alexandrium fundyense signals early in the week (50-100 cell/L range), those signals disappeared by late Tuesday through Friday, consistent with the lack of A. fundyense cells in the area.
Since no significant population has been observed, we are considering slowing the ESP sampling down and conserving onboard resources towards the end of the mission, while prepping the next ESP for deployment later this month.