6/21/2018 12:27:39 PM News

Drifters to help predict algal blooms off Shetland

Shetland Drifters

As part of ongoing research into trying to improve the prediction of harmful algal blooms, fieldwork is now taking place in Shetland.

Paul Dees, a UHI PhD student based at SAMS, Oban and NAFC in Shetland is funded by the European Social Fund. Paul released drifters with 10m long drogues. It is hoped that studying the movement of the drifters will give an idea of currents acting on algae on the west of Shetland.

The location was chosen as a response to particularly large blooms of Dinophysis spp. which were advected into shore by winds in 2006 and 2013. Preliminary evidence suggested that where the water depth reaches around 100m depth might be an area for algal blooms to form and grow.

The drifters were released on the 31th May 2018, just to the west of St Magnus Bay. One drifter was released close to where water depth is 100m and has drifted around Papa Stour before traveling southwards. The two other drifters which were deployed a little further out have travelled south and are now drifting northwest.

It is interesting to see the effect of tidal currents, as the drifters can sometimes be seen to move in big loops. If found, please return to the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway.