Due to the pandemic, we have canceled our foreseeable conference appearances. In lieu of attending the Annual Meeting of the National Shellfisheries Association this month, they have provided us a platform to tell the story of the FlowCam and how it can benefit the Shellfish Aquaculture Industry. What follows below is taken from their quarterly newsletter and explains how the new FlowCam 5000 can support this industry.
Whether monitoring for harmful algae, assessing the food supply for filter-feeding bivalves, or determining the health and viability of shellfish larvae in aquaculture operations, shellfish managers have traditionally relied on the tedious and time-consuming practice of manual microscopy. With the advent of Flow Imaging Microscopy, they can now analyze water samples significantly faster than before.
Since its introduction in 1999, the FlowCam has become a valued instrument for rapidly analyzing plankton populations and other marine life. More than 500 FlowCams are used in 50+ countries to identify, count, and measure phytoplankton, zooplankton, and other microscopic particles.
In 2018, Dauphin Island Sea Lab performed a study using oyster larvae from the Mobile Bay - Mississippi Sound system off the coast of Alabama. There have been concerted efforts to reestablish a flourishing population of oysters and oyster reefs in this area as part of an initiative to protect the shoreline and save the population from rapid decline. An important piece of this puzzle is the need to track larval transport from birth to adult settlements. The aim of this study was to establish a method to track these larvae migrations.
Twenty-two million larvae were released at both high- and low-salinity locations in order to test (among other things) two different methods of detection upon recapture: fluorescent microscopy and the FlowCam. It was found that although both methods worked well at identifying the calcein-stained larvae (traditional microscopy had a higher detection capacity), the FlowCam was more efficient and practical for this application. In the end, it was determined that "the FlowCam was the most viable option for detection of large-volume, high-background field sampling". [Gancel, H.N., Carmichael, R.H., Park, K. et al. Field Mark-Recapture of Calcein-Stained Larval Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in a Freshwater-Dominated Estuary. Estuaries and Coasts 42, 1558-1569 (2019)]
For the farmer, the FlowCam can be used for HAB monitoring as well as evaluating the productivity and plankton availability for shellfish food supply when performing site evaluations. Samples can be analyzed in less than 10 minutes, providing immediate feedback to the farmer so that corrective action can be taken should it be warranted.
In the hatchery the FlowCam has many uses. The instrument can be used to keep track of the health of the larvae simply by looking at high resolution images. Shell abnormalities can be quickly assessed. When looking to determine the ratio of live/dead larvae, the vital stain Neutral Red can be easily added to the samples. Live larvae pick up the stain allowing you to determine the number of live larvae vs dead. In addition, the hatchery manager can monitor the concentration of the algae being fed to the larvae.
In 2019 Fluid Imaging Technologies launched a new streamlined instrument, the FlowCam 5000. "Over the course of selling our FlowCam these past 20 years, we have seen a need for a simpler and less expensive instrument", says Fluid Imaging Vice President, Harry Nelson. "To meet this need, our engineering team put their heads together and created the streamlined FlowCam 5000". This new instrument was specifically designed to make semi-automated plankton analysis accessible to all organizations. To learn more about the FlowCam, please contact Harry.
We hope to see you at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the National Shellfisheries Association in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 21-26, 2021.