MARFLAT is the acronym for the project's title in Portuguese, "High Resolution Monitoring of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)". High densities of toxic phytoplankton are relatively uncommon in coastal waters off São Paulo but the growing mussel farming activities in the area have led us to propose and carry out this research project, to acquire baseline information on existing species and their potential effect on the ecosystem. This was achieved in two ways. First, a one-year monitoring program with daily phytoplankton sampling was performed between April 2009 and April 2010 on a fixed station located at Cocanha beach, Caraguatatuba, where São Paulo's most extensive mussel farm is located. In addition to the fixed station, we have visited other seven locations on the northern coast of São Paulo on a monthly basis between January 2009 and March 2010, to collect samples and environmental data. This effort, carried out in partnership with Dr. Gleyci Moser (UERJ) and Dr. Juan Alba (UFRJ) enabled us to evaluate the spatial and temporal occurrence of potentially harmful algae and other phyto- and zooplankton, and the underlying oceanographic conditions. A second, experimental approach of the MARFLAT project focused on understanding zooplankton responses to varying concentrations and combinations of toxic and potentially toxic dinoflagellates, as well as their cell exudates. The project is funded by FAPESP and CNPq.



FlowCAM available in the Ubatuba lab, purchased with a FAPESP grant to the MARFLAT project. Images on the upper right are from a Tetraselmis culture used in grazing and egg production experiments during the project.

Left: Using a portable pump to collect plankton samples in the Cocanha beach, Caraguatatuba. Mussel longline floaters are visible in the background. Right: A FlowCAM-generated image set from a natural plankton sample collected on the same location.