SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

May 20, 2013

'Laboratory in a can' monitors red tide off Maine

PORTLAND, Maine — Red tide monitoring is going high-tech with a robotic “laboratory in a can.”

A garbage can-size canister was deployed in late April in the ocean waters off southern Maine to collect and transmit data about toxin-producing algae blooms, known as red tides, that show up in the Gulf of Maine each spring.

Inside the canister is a pint-size robotic biology lab that extracts organisms from water samples, tests them for DNA and toxins, and transmits real-time data to shore by cellphone. Scientists say the apparatus will transform the way the harmful algal blooms are monitored and allow resource managers to better predict when and where red tide outbreaks might occur.

“This is one of the first steps in a major enhancement of red-tide monitoring,” said Don Anderson, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, who has overseen development of the device.

One of the contraptions, called an environmental sample processor, was put in the ocean in late April. It will be taken out in mid-June and replaced by another that will continue taking samples through the rest of the red tide season.

Anderson wants to have four of the processors in the Gulf of Maine next year. In time, he hopes to have a dozen of them at strategic points along the Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts coasts, as well as in Canada’s Bay of Fundy and on Georges Bank fishing grounds 60 miles east of Cape Cod.

The monitoring devices cost more than $200,000 each, but the price should come down as the technology is refined, Anderson said. Funding for the project comes from a number of sources, including the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Red tide blooms produce a toxin that clams, mussels and some other shellfish absorb, making them unsafe for humans to eat. In extreme cases, eating tainted shellfish can cause potentially fatal paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Officials look for sex offender who cut off GPS bracelet SALEM -- Police and probation officials are searching for a Level 3 sex offender who cut off a court-mandated GPS bracelet on Tuesday and disappeared. Matthew John Delima, 31, who is registered as homeless and living in Salem, had just learned that

    July 31, 2014

  • Marquis Campbell, Steven Diaz indicted on human trafficking, kidnapping charges

    DANVERS -- A grand jury has indicted two men who, police say, used motels in Saugus and Danvers after kidnapping a woman and coercing her into prostitution over three days, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Thursday. One of the defendants in

    July 31, 2014

  • Baker(1) GOP's Baker to unveil plan to fight drug addiction

    BOSTON (AP) — Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker has unveiled what he's calling a comprehensive approach to tackling the drug addiction crisis in Massachusetts.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140730_SN_DLE_DEMOLITION5 Demolition of Salem Harbor Station begins

    SALEM -- It all begins with B5. Or ends, depending on how you look at it. Demolition began at Salem Harbor Station Wednesday afternoon, with crews first setting upon one of the power plant's 11 steel tanks. The work was supposed to begin Monday, but

    July 31, 2014 7 Photos

  • Market Basket seeks replacement workers through job fair next week

    Market Basket began advertising a job fair for store managers and assistant managers in a direct shot at the current managers who signed petitions Monday threatening to resign if former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas is not rehired. The ad, which will appear

    July 31, 2014 2 Stories