Shetland: Marine science delegation on fact-finding trip Published: 23 August, 2007
A GROUP of eight delegates from Scotland, Ireland and France are visiting Shetland this week on an algal bloom fact finding trip.
The group will work with representatives of the NAFC Marine Centre to undertake fieldwork that will lead them to the compilation of a specific set of criteria, which will indicate the conditions most likely to produce an algal bloom of a particular species.
The project is funded by Interreg NWE an EU programme supporting collaboration between different regions and is a joint initiative between the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) and the Martin Ryan Institute of the NUI Galway an international centre of excellence for the study of marine and freshwater resources, in collaboration with the NAFC Marine Centre.
Explaining the nature of the joint field study, delegate Keith Davidson, senior lecturer at SAMS, said: We are looking at the factors that govern the initiation of algal blooms and comparing these indicators across the different regions involved in the project.
We are investigating two harmful algal blooms in particular Alexandrium and Pseudo-nitzschia, which are responsible for paralytic and amnesic shellfish poisoning. We will be collecting water samples from different parts of Shetland and relating what we find to algal bloom populations and the environmental conditions in those areas to build up a better picture of what is going on.
We will also be sampling the benthic environment and taking sediment samples from the sea bed. This is because some algal blooms can produce resting cysts on the sea bed, which lie dormant until a time when conditions are appropriate, when they rise to the surface again. We dont currently know where these cyst beds lie and this needs investigating.
With the information we gather from our visit to Shetland, we hope to begin to produce a risk assessment that will record the conditions that could most likely lead to the start of an algal bloom. Our partner in Ireland has been studying this for a few years now and has build up models of when they expect blooms to occur.
We hope that by combining the results of the investigative work we undertake in Shetland with that already found at Loch Creran, near Oban, we will be able to produce a certain set of criteria that will indicate when there will be an increased risk of an algal bloom of these two particularly harmful species occurring, so that they might be intercepted at an early stage.
Wed like to acknowledge the support of members of Seafood Shetland, in particular Demlane Ltd and Blueshell Mussels Ltd, who are allowing us to access their sites this week.
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