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UW, NOAA deploy ocean robot to monitor harmful algal blooms off Washington coast

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Scientists with the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration deployed a new tool this week that will constantly be on the lookout for harmful algal blooms and their toxins off the coast of La Push, Washington.

The Environmental Sample Processor, or ESP, was deployed May 23 for the first time off the Pacific Northwest coast with sensors to monitor specific algal species and a harmful toxin they emit, domoic acid. The tool will provide autonomous, near-real-time measurements of the amount of toxin and the concentrations of six potentially harmful algal species.

The new tool’s deployment is part of a collaborative project led by the UW and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and funded by the NOAA-led U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System. Partners include NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Florida-based Spyglass Technologies, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Bellingham’s Northwest Indian College.

NANOOS is a Regional Association in support of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

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