Algae Research: More Needed

TriLux is a low cost, miniature sensor that monitors chlorophyll, turbidity and either phycocyanin or phycoerythrin in a single, highly sensitive probe. The fluorometer enables widespread biological monitoring, including harmful algal bloom detection, ocean research and coastal monitoring.

Algae may not always make for daily headlines on the world's newspapers, but with the climate warming and increasing public awareness, scientific monitoring and analysis has become more important than ever.

Algae may not always make for daily headlines on the world’s newspapers, but with the climate warming and increasing public awareness, scientific monitoring and analysis has become more important than ever.

North America

algae research 1Blue-green algae blooms, once unheard of in Lake Superior, are a sign that ‘things are changing’ experts say. The first blue-green algae bloom appeared in Lake Superior a decade ago and until 2018, the blooms were small and short-lived, lasting from only a few hours to a day. Algae blooms emerge every summer in Lake Erie, Lake Michigan’s Green Bay and Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, largely a result of an overabundance of nutrients from fertilizer, wastewater and stormwater runoff.

But Lake Superior is the northernmost and by far the coldest of the Great Lakes, with typical summer surface temperatures around 60 degrees compared with 75 degrees for Lake Erie. What’s more, its shoreline is not as developed as the others, nor is there a heavy agricultural presence nearby. Nevertheless, blooms have been reported in the lake every year since 2018, leaving scientists questioning why this is happening and what it means for the lake. The likely cause: warming waters and intensifying storms from climate change.


algae research 2A Situation Red Alert was issued earlier in 2022, placing all government role-players, in the sector, on standby. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment also activated the West Coast Rock Lobster Contingency Plan. According to the department’s spokesperson, Albi Modise, there was a build-up of large red tides in the greater St. Helena Bay region in 2022.

“These blooms of phytoplankton presently extend 50-60 kilometres dominating waters in the vicinity of Elands Bay, Lambert’s Bay, and Doring Bay. “These blooms are dominated by a group of phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates and their inshore accumulation, particularly during periods of calm, often leads to their decay and the subsequent development of low oxygen conditions which cause marine mortalities,” he said.


algae research 3Britain’s waterways are shown turning green as algae – some toxic – takes over rivers, lakes and canals across the country as it swelters in the extreme heat. Britain’s waterways are turning green as algae begins to take over rivers, lakes and canals across the country during the extreme heat wave.

Pictures from Britain’s biggest cities including Manchester and London show algal blooms developing across canals, rivers and lakes. Barges and canal boats in Greater London were captured ploughing through pea-green soup algae which is covering the City’s canals.

Central America

Near-record amounts of algae, or water plants, are covering Caribbean coasts from Puerto Rico to Barbados. The plants are killing fish and other wildlife, producing bad smells and gases, and hurting tourism. The University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab said nearly 22 million metric tons of brown algae called sargassum appeared in the Atlantic Ocean in June.

That was 20 percent more than the record set in 2018. And unusually large amounts of sargassum have floated into the Caribbean Sea. The plants recently surrounded Pinel Island near the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin. The normally clear blue waters turned dark brown forcing officials to stop boat service and cancel fun activities on the water.

South America

One of the big recent environmental challenges facing the salmon industry in Chile are the Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) produced downstream from salmon farms, due to eutrophication of water bodies close to and/or underneath salmon pens.

In 2022, a new law compelling fish farmers to remove inorganic waste from the seabed and remediate the impact of organic waste beneath pens was passed in Chile which will come into effect in 2024. The law requires holders of aquaculture concessions to take measures to avoid or reduce the deposit of inorganic and organic waste on the seabed and comes with stiff penalties for non-compliance.

Algae monitoring options from Chelsea Technologies


labstaf harmful algal blooms
LabSTAF is the world’s leading instrumentation option for Primary Productivity and Harmful Algal Blooms.

  • Analysis of the biochemistry and ecology of aquatic systems
  • Verification of satellite data
  • Facilitates measurement at scales from mesoscale eddies to oceanic fronts
  • Climate change research and modelling
  • Monitoring of algal bloom development and community structure
  • Ecological monitoring to manage water catchments
  • Identify and mitigate sources affecting water quality in catchments


Trilix sensor

  • Trilux sensor monitors 3 parameters in a single, highly sensitive probe
  • Low cost solution for widespread algae monitoring and large scale monitoring programmes
  • Real-time data output in μg/l
  • User configurable sampling frequency from 0.1 Hz to 3 Hz
  • Robust ambient light and turbidity rejection
  • Data display and logging with Hawk and Watchkeeper accessories
  • Now in a Trilux Field Starter kit, which includes free *lux cable

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