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Ballast-Check 2 Sea to Sea Trials aboard the RV Meteor

Parameters: Ballast Water Compliance Monitoring

Turner Designs participated in a 10 day research cruise aboard the RV Meteor, a research vessel owned by the Federal Republic of Germany, through the Ministry of Research and Technology (BMFT) and funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Figure 1 below shows the cruise track which began in Mindelo, Sao Vicente (Cape Verde Islands) just off the coast of Africa and ended in Hamburg, Germany. Research was focused on ballast water sampling techniques and protocols, utilizing multiple labs and vendors to determine the best methods to employ. Various instruments were used to aid in the analysis (fluorometry, FDA, ATP, microscopy). Samples analyzed were either untreated surface samples, UV treated samples, or ballast tank samples that were held for a specific period of time. Turner Designs volunteered the Ballast-Check 2 to help with this study. There were two components to this analysis: 1) monitoring algae over the cruise track and 2) testing ballast water for differences between treated and untreated samples. Over 600 samples were analyzed for this cruise providing a detailed data set.

Figure 1: Cruise track for RV Meteor from Mindelo to Hamburg.

As expected during summer in the oligotrophic Atlantic, very low algal abundances were measured. However, algal activity was high for these low abundance samples indicating algae were not limited or stressed and had bloom potential if the right conditions were met. Algal abundance gradually increased as the RV Meteor approached the English Channel where the mixing of nutrient rich water with open ocean water was ideal for supporting a larger biomass. Simultaneously, activity started to decrease, presumably due to the algal population containing cyanobacteria, suspended sediments, and/or dissolved organics all of which can lower activity estimates due to light blocking or non-photochemical quenching. Passing through the English Channel and into the river Elbe, the measured algal activity and abundance were very low. The river Elbe had a very high sediment load which may account for these observations. The Ballast-Check 2 agreed well with PAM data yielding an accurate characterization of the different water types encountered during this cruise. Ballast water was collected as untreated and UV treated samples. The purpose of the analysis was to determine if UV treatment had a significant effect on the abundance or activity of algae. The Ballast-Check 2 was able to distinguish between treated versus untreated samples for all three sampling events that included a UV treatment. Microscopic counts correlated well with Ballast-Check 2 abundance data, but counts generally aren’t able to distinguish between treated and untreated samples. This distinction is better defined when using active fluorometry, which can determine whether treated algae have diminished photosynthetic capability, or none at all. The Ballast-Check 2 is a specialized instrument that encompasses two important measures for characterizing algal constituents in water types, algal abundance and algal activity. Primarily used for ballast water testing, this instrument can quickly indicate whether algae in ballast water have the potential to proliferate and become invasive if given the chance.

Author: Lawrence Younan

Institution: Turner Designs

Location: Africa to Germany

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