ucla researchers developing improved device for detecting dangerous algal blooms- daily bruin

UCLA researchers developing improved device for detecting dangerous algal blooms- Daily Bruin

At 6:30 a.m., before summer crowds swarm the beach, Aydogan Ozcan and his research team arrive below the Santa Monica Pier. One researcher scoops up ocean water with a jar and inserts two small tubes, allowing the water to steadily flow into a sleek black box that is connected to a laptop.

As water flows through the device, images of phytoplankton appear on the laptop screen. Within minutes, they will be able to detect the presence of toxic algal blooms along the California coastline.

Although the device is still in the prototype phase, its ability to quickly produce high-resolution images at a lower price will greatly aid marine biologists in their work, Ozcan said. Understanding how, when and where harmful blooms occur could allow biologists to take preventative measures and reduce the detrimental effects of toxins.