Flow Imaging Microscopy Blog

Are Blue Mussels the New Microplastic Fiber Sink? A study by Bigelow Lab

December 2018 — Microplastics are an ubiquitous concern for the world's oceans. Increasing demand for consumer plastics has resulted in an estimated 4.8 to 15.11 million metric tons of plastics entering the oceans every year1,2. These macroplastics degrade into microplastics, or plastic fragments <5 mm in diameter, which can range in morphology from rigid pieces to amorphous fibers. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, User Spotlight

New Method for Meiobenthos Analysis Using FlowCam

Researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, and Am-Lab Inc. developed a methodology to use the FlowCam® for analysis of sediment-inhabiting meiobenthos.  

Meiobenthos are small, benthic invertebrates often used as indicators of anthropogenic influence and other natural disturbances. They play a primary role in sediment nutrient cycling and stability in benthic ecosystems. 

Meiobenthos imaged by the FlowCam. Organic matter was stained with Rose Bengal to easily differentiate meiobenthos from inorganic particulates, such as sediment. Imaged organisms are labeled as follows: a) Nematoda; b) Copepoda; c) Nauplius larvae; d) Kinorhyncha; e) Foraminifera. Credit: Kitahashi et al. (2018). 

Optical microscopy, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming, is often the primary technology utilized for analysis of meiobenthos. In this study, Kitahashi et al. developed a method to use the FlowCam and VisualSpreadsheet® for analysis of these small, benthic invertebrates.

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Topics: Freshwater Research, Marine Research, User Spotlight, Aquatic Research

Climate Change and the Gulf of Maine as Discussed by President of Bigelow Lab

November 6, 2018, Brunswick, Maine—

At the close of Election Day, Dr. Deborah Bronk presented on the effects of climate change on the Gulf of Maine at Frontier Cafe and Restaurant in Brunswick, Maine.

Dr. Bronk, a PhD from the University of Maryland, most recently held tenure as a Professor at the College of William and Mary where she conducted research on how phytoplankton and other aquatic microbes process nitrogen. In February 2018, she became the President and CEO of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, News and Events, Harmful Algal Blooms

FlowCam Aboard Arctic Ocean Vessel to Assist in Phytoplankton and Zooplankton Analysis during Northwest Passage

One Ocean Expeditions' vessel Akademik loffe will be setting sail on August 23rd for 22 days with a team of scientists, students and a film crew to study the Arctic Ocean. First ever live-broadcasts are planned for select museums, classrooms and citizen scientists worldwide.  

The Akademik loffe will set sail late August 2018 to conduct climate change studies in the Canadian Arctic. A FlowCam will be aboard and used for plankton monitoring. Credit: One Ocean Expeditions. 

Aboard the Akademik Ioffe, the team will collect water, ice, and air samples to advance the understanding of and document the effect climate change is having on the environment and biodiversity in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The expedition's chief scientist, Dr. Brice Loose of the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, is coordinating and leading the research into the exchange of greenhouse gases between the water and atmosphere, and changes in distribution and abundance of two vulnerable levels of the Arctic food web – plankton and seabirds.  

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Topics: Aquatic Research, News and Events, Marine Research

World Oceans Day 2018: Prevent Plastic Pollution & Save Our Plankton

The oceans are the lifeblood of humankind, literally. They provide the world with over 50% of its oxygen, enable global trading of goods and services, and provide habitat for innumerable species. 

This year, the theme of World Oceans Day is preventing plastic pollution in our oceans and encouraging solutions to promote healthier oceans. Plastic pollution exists as meso- and macroplastic, or large plastic items such as cellophane wrap, food wrappers, lighters, and synthetic fabrics, and microplastics, which are the breakdown product of larger plastic items.

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Topics: News and Events, Marine Research

Microplastics in Our Oceans: How Can We Study These Microscopic Pollutants?

Microplastics are everywhere. Microplastics result from the breakdown of larger plastic waste (plastic bottles, bags, straws, glitter, fishing nets, toothbrushes, etc.) as well as synthetic fabrics (spandex, nylon, polyester, etc.). Research has discovered these micropollutants in our oceans, our shellfish, our bottled water. However, these tiny plastic particles can be challenging to study and remain vastly uncharacterized.

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, FlowCam Technology

The Oyster's Effect on Silica Cycling and Diatom Abundance in Temperate Estuaries

Nicholas Ray, Boston University PhD Candidate, collecting samples in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, for his study on the oyster's effect on silica cycling and estuarine health. (Credit: Nicholas Ray)

Nicholas Ray, PhD candidate at Boston University, was the 2016 recipient of the Fluid Imaging Technologies student research grant program.  Applicants submit proposals for how they intend to use the FlowCam within the scope of their research, and the winner is awarded the use of a FlowCam for a 4-month period. Fluid Imaging Technologies also provided Ray with a paid registration to the 2017 Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) Conference where he gave an oral presentation on his research. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, User Spotlight, Aquaculture, Marine Research, Freshwater Research

FlowCam listed among MTR 100


Marine Technology Reporter published its 12th annual listing of leading 100 subsea companies in the July/August 2017 issue. Fluid Imaging Technologies was listed among the Top Technology Disruptors.

Kira Coley, journalist and contributing writer, describes the FlowCam: "What I love about this product is its combined ability of data gathering, plus detailed analysis of that data."

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, Harmful Algal Blooms

Study shows elevated pCO2 may favor Phaeocystis spp. spring bloom dominance

How will phytoplankton respond to the rising partial pressure of atmospheric CO2 and resulting ocean acidification?  A study from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (Plymouth, UK) and the University of Essex (Colchester, UK) investigated the question. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research

FlowCam as a Systematic Ballast Water Analyzer

All ocean vessels require ballast water to help maintain stability and maneuverability during transit. Ballast water is taken on or discharged by tankers, cargo ships, and cruise ships when changes in cargo load, weight distribution of the vessel, or the sea conditions require it. As ballast water is taken up in one location and discharged in another, marine organisms living in the ballast water are often discharged into unrelated, foreign waters. These non-indigenous species may become invasive and cause environmental, ecological, economical and even human health damage.  

Transport System for Potentially Invasive Species: New Regulations

National and international regulations have been adopted to mitigate and prevent further ecosystem invasions by organisms released with ballast water. Starting in September 2017, new regulations will take effect to limit the introduction of foreign organisms via ballast water discharge. Technical guidelines have been established to limit concentration and size of viable organisms.  Achievement of said guidelines and adherence to standards will require the use of approved Ballast Water Treatment Systems (BWTS).  

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Invasive Species, Marine Research