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Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)

NANOOS is engaged with several partners on HAB research and monitoring in the Pacific Northwest. NANOOS participates in regional projects that help increase understanding of HAB causes and improve prediction of HAB events. NANOOS provides data analysis products, such as modeled current and temperature forecasts and real-time HAB data, critical to resource managers and shellfish growers for decision making relevant to HABs.

In 2014, IOOS awarded an Ocean Technology Transfer grant to NANOOS partner University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory to place an Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) on their subsurface mooring located 15 miles offshore of La Push, Washington. The ESP is an autonomous, underwater, robotic marine biosensor developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and operated by the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center. The ESP observations provides advanced warning of toxic Pseudo-nitzschia blooms. This information can reduce both the negative health and economic impacts of HABs on the Washington Coast. Scientists understand that this HAB often originates in the nearby Juan de Fuca eddy and when winds shift, the cells are transported to the WA coast. In near real-time the ESP detects Pseudo-nitzschia cells and their associated toxin (domoic acid). These observations are available for spring-summer months via the NANOOS Visualization System, enabling coastal shellfish managers and other users to make timely management decisions. Additionally, the project engages tribal communities on seafood safety and advances environmental monitoring through outreach, education, and training, which includes summer internships and Summer Science and Art Camps through the Northwest Indian College.

NEMO-ESP Subsurface float on deck during a test deployment in June 2015

Is Shellfish Safe?

HABs Resources

Additional Resources

Detecting Harmful Algal Blooms in the Pacific Northwest

NANOOS Awarded Funds to Study 2015 West Coast Bloom

NOAA Funds HAB Forecasting System

Phytoplankton Bloom in Hood Canal 2016

NANOOS Ocean Technology Transfer Grant for 2014-2017

Overview of 2015 HAB Event

How are HABs Monitored?



HABs Research

Related NANOOS Products

Real-Time Data

The NANOOS Visualization System (NVS) provides easy access to forecast and observation data across a wide range of assets such as buoys, shore and land stations, high-frequency radar, and satellites.

Water Quality for Shellfish Growers

Access a wide range of water quality data tailored to the shellfish growing community.

Samish Bay Biosensor

The NWFSC Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) is an advanced biosensor for micro-organisms, including those responsible for harmful algal blooms.

Regional Coastal Observing Systems



Central and Northern California

Great Lakes

Gulf of Mexico

Pacific Islands


Atlantic - Northeast

Pacific Northwest

Southern California

Atlantic - Southeast