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Maine Shore Steward Volunteers - Maine Phytoplankton Monitoring Role Description


Maine Phytoplankton Monitoring




Maine Phytoplankton Monitoring relies on trained citizen volunteers to collect phytoplankton in the field at designated stations and identify the phytoplankton using microscopes. The program assists the Maine Biotoxin Program by monitoring for phytoplankton that has the potential to cause harmful algal blooms (HABs also known as “red tides”).


Program content is appropriate for high school age and up.


Volunteers will collect phytoplankton from land based stations on a weekly basis using Department of Marine Resources (DMR) issued equipment. Identification of target species and other common plankton will be completed using microscopes provided by the DMR. This information is used by the DMR biotoxin monitoring program to assist in prioritizing need of testing shellfish meat for biotoxins.

Time Commitment

Volunteers will collect phytoplankton from land based stations on a weekly basis. Data sheets from these will then be sent via e-mail or fax to the DMR.


United States Food and Drug Administration, the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension/Maine Sea Grant developed the Maine Phytoplankton Monitoring Program for the coast of Maine. Since then the program has become a part of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Public Health Division. After your volunteer training, various forms of support will come from these organizations.


This volunteer program was designed to act as an early warning system to assist the DMR Biotoxin Program during the HABs season. This data is also used to document long term trends for climate change and other large scale models.


Alison Sirois
Department of Marine Resources
PO Box 8, McKown Pt Rd
West Boothbay, ME 04575
Wk: 207.633.9401 Fax: 207.633.9579

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