Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

New algal bloom research

A NAFC Marine Centre based PhD student has released a number of drifters into the sea west of Shetland to better predict the occurrence of harmful algal blooms.

Paul Dees hopes that studying the movement of the drifters, which have 10m long drogues, will give an idea of currents acting on algae.

The locations to the west of the isles were chosen as a response to particularly large blooms of Dinophysis spp in 2006 and 2013.

Algal blooms can be particularly harmful to farmed mussels and salmon.

Preliminary evidence suggests that where the water depth reaches around 100m depth might be an area for algal blooms to form and grow.

The drifters were released just to the west of St Magnus Bay on 31 May.

A spokesperson for the NAFC said: “One drifter was released close to where water depth is 100m and has drifted around Papa Stour before traveling southwards.

“The two other drifters which were deployed a little further out have travelled south and are now drifting northwest.

“It is interesting to see the effect of tidal currents, as the drifters can sometimes be seen to move in big loops.”