Chile is the fourth largest producer of mussels in the world and the health of the mussels is of paramount importance to the economy. Leading environmental consultants Plancton Andino (Chile) have been using a CTG FastAct Laboratory FRRf System to monitor red tides as part of the Bivalve Molluscs Health Program.
These “red tides” or Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are natural events occurring around the world. Since first being reported in Chile in 1972, in the Strait of Magellan these HAB have increased in both frequency and geographic coverage.
Because HABs are highly toxic, they have come to create a serious problem for human health and the local economy. HABs are caused by the cell division of certain toxic microalgae, which are regular constituents of the planktonic microflora found in aquatic ecosystems. Their harmful effects can be caused by the presence of toxins, as occurs with the dinoflagellates responsible for Paralytic Shellfish Poison and lipophilic toxins and the diatoms responsible for Amnesic Shellfish Poison. Some of the marine organisms that filter microalgae such as bivalve shellfish concentrate these toxins. Consumption of these organisms may seriously harm human health and may even be lethal.
The CTG FastAct and the new Act2 FRRf systems consist of a multi-wavelength fluorometer that excites a sample with blue, green and orange light. This makes it well suited for the application of monitoring HABs, as many of these organisms will absorb light more strongly at green/orange wavelengths. This coupled with fluorometer's broad detection range and the ability to monitor at high spatial and temporal resolutions, makes it the product of choice for tracking the onset-, peak- and post-bloom events of red algal tides.