Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2007 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Toxic dinoflagellate blooms in the Inner Harbor, Baltimore MD and a proposal for real-time continuous monitoring of water quality in this highly visible urban environment
Adolf, Jason
Co-Authors: Jason E. Adolf and Allen R. Place
Abstract: We describe toxic dinoflagellates blooms (Karlodinium veneficum) in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, MD, and propose a real-time continuous water quality monitoring system for the Inner Harbor that will serve as a research, management and educational outreach tool. K. veneficum is a common member of the phytoplankton in Chesapeake Bay and temperate coastal waters worldwide. Blooms of this dinoflagellate have been associated with fish kills for decades. For the past three years (2005 - 2007) toxic blooms of K. veneficum have been observed in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. We hypothesize that nutrient loading from adjacent outfalls (Jones R., storm drain culverts) drives the growth of small phytoplankton, particularly cryptophytes, on which K. veneficum feeds mixotrophically, leading to enhanced K. veneficum growth and bloom formation. Deployment of a commercially-available real-time water quality monitoring system that differentially detects Chlorophyll a (all phytoplankton), phycoerythrin (cryptophytes, cyanobacteria) and phycocyanin (cryptophytes, cyanobacteria) will allow this hypothesis to be tested and may lead to a predictive model of K. veneficum blooms based on detection of preceding blooms of prey phytoplankton. Additionally, a real time water quality monitoring system in the Inner Harbor will provide measurements whereby the impact of upstream efforts to mitigate nutrient run-off into the Inner Harbor can be quantified. Educational outreach programs can be developed around the real-time data acquisition and display that focus on the relationship between upstream activities (urban watershed) and water quality in the highly visible Baltimore Inner Harbor.