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May 6, 2014 - ESP Update

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ESP deployment sites - 2014 field season. (WHOI)

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 fundyense (not quantifiable because the result is just below the lower limit of detection). ESP-2 (ESPjake) also returned one very weak A. fundyense signal in Casco Bay. ESP-3 (ESPdennis) is currently not showing any indication of the presence of A. fundyense 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. fundyense, 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, 

Bruce Keafer
Research Associate (Anderson Lab)
Laboratory for Ocean Sensors and Observing Systems (LOSOS)

Last updated: July 1, 2019

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