A team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is hoping the device they call “a robot in a box”, will be a new tool for forecasting outbreaks of red tide. The device, roughly the size of a kitchen sink, has been suspended under the ocean surface from a buoy off the New Hampshire coast. It will sample marine organisms to measure toxic red tide cells over a 45 day period.
The new device, called an Environmental Sample Processor, tests seawater directly for the toxins. It works by pumping seawater onto a sensor that identifies the microorganisms’ DNA and radios the information to scientists at Woods Hole.
Also under development at Woods Hole is the Imaging FlowCytobot. It feeds pictures of individual cells in algal blooms to software trained to identify organisms.