The Critical Role of Phytoplankton Monitoring for Seafood Safety and Security – FNHA

Nov 29, 2022

Story by Holly Clermont, Project Lead, We All Take Care of the Harvest (WATCH) Project

On a government dock on Cortes Island, Klahoose fisheries manager and We All Take Care of the Harvest (WATCH) Community Lead Byron Harry slowly raises a cone-shaped phytoplankton net, or “tow sock” to the surface. Phytoplankton specialist Jay Pudota (Samudra Environmental Consulting) is at his side, advising him to swish the net back and forth in the water before he lifts it out. The motion helps guide any stray organisms on the net’s surface into the bucket at the narrow “cod end” of the net. Once he removes the bucket from the net, Harry pours the water into a labeled plastic sample bottle. He uses a second device – an alpha bottle – to collect “discrete” water samples at depths of one, five, 10 and sometimes 15 meters. While the plankton tow net concentrates the plankton to see what kinds are present, the discrete water samples more precisely show how many plankton cells are in the water. The community can use this information to track the status of a harmful algal bloom (HAB).

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