Algae-based microrobots able to clean up plastic waste

Swarms of iron-clad algae have been built to sweep through bodies of water to collect elusive bits of micro- and nanoplastics. Meet the Microrobots!

Imagine you are but a piece of plastic, adrift in an endless ocean — a mere remnant of a once larger structure, the origin of which you do not recall. You are the product of many, many years of natural erosion, and yet you, invisible to the human eye, persist.

Moved by the ocean’s whims, your fate is likely to be consumed by whichever organism stumbles upon you first. But suddenly, a shadow looms overhead, and much to your disbelief, it is no fish or squid, but a green sphere covered in bits of black iron, moving towards you at unnatural speeds. You feel yourself being pulled towards it, and as you approach, you realize it’s also covered in many others like you.

Albeit a dramatic representation for effect, it hints at a remarkable development made possible by a team of researchers at the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) at Brno University of Technology.

By decorating green algae cells with ever so tiny particles of black iron oxide — also known as magnetite — the team created magnetic algae robots that can be controlled from a distance to sift the most elusive of plastics from the waters.

A mess to clean up

Let’s face it: we love plastics. They are cheap, flexible, and moldable, while also being very durable and light. This makes them extremely convenient materials for endless applications, and thus, their current widespread use.

However, these very advantages are also highly detrimental from an ecological perspective. Their rising levels of production, combined with their characteristic resistance to natural degradation, have led to huge quantities of plastic waste that will stay in the environment for anywhere between a few decades to several centuries.

Throughout this entire time, plastics in aquatic environments will break down into minute fragments that are categorized into microplastics (smaller than 5 mm) and nanoplastics (smaller than 1000 nm). These fragments are then ingested by fish and other aquatic organisms, causing physical harm, problems in digestion and reproduction, and potentially death.

They can also collect other pollutants present in the water, such as heavy metals and organic contaminants. These plastics and the contaminants they carry are transferred up the food chain, and scientists are still beginning to study what effects, if any, this might have on humans in the long run.

To try and clean this mess and mitigate the persistence of micro- and nanoplastics in the environment, researchers have been developing all sorts of solutions. Unfortunately, these generally suffer from being too complex or expensive to carry out, or simply weren’t efficient enough.

This is where the robots come in.

Magnetic algae robots

To better target these tiny plastics, a team of researchers at CEITEC came up with the idea of creating equally tiny janitors that they could control. These tiny robots are not like the conventional mechanical machines we’re used to but are themselves micro/nano-sized particles made up of a combination of various functional materials.

“I was thinking I could find one cheap and mass-producible material to replace expensive metals,” said Xia Peng, a researcher and Ph.D. student at CEITEC, and primary author of the current study published in the Advanced Functional Materials journal. “Then algae cells just came to my mind.”

Dubbing them “magnetic algae robots” or MARs, Xia and her team decorated cells of Chlorella vulgaris (a species of green microalgae) with eco-friendly magnetite nanoparticles, which enable the MARs to be manipulated using an external magnetic field. These algae are not only biodegradable, but they are also easy and cheap to mass produce.

Another advantage is that their surface is riddled with chemical groups called carboxylic acids, which carry a negative electrostatic charge. “The surface charge of MARs is negative due to the presence of [carboxylic acid] groups, while the surface charge of the micro/nanoplastics selected is positive, which promotes the electrostatic attraction of targeted micro/nanoplastics, allowing for their capture and removal,” explained Xia.

The negatively charged algae attract positively charged micro/nanoplastics and keep them “glued” to themselves. This is also how the magnetite nanoparticles, which are positively charged, can be attached to the surface of the algae cells for remote magnetic control without requiring any complex processing.

Initial tests

For their tests, the team used a positively charged fluorescent variant of the ubiquitous plastic polystyrene, whose size varied from 2 μm to 50 nm. This fluorescent form glows under specific experimental conditions and enables the team to measure the quantity of plastic removed from water samples by the MARs, including deionized, tap, rain, and lake water.

They added MARs to these contaminated water samples, sent them on predefined trajectories under magnetic guidance — picking up the polystyrene in their path — and then examined the treated samples by comparing their levels of fluorescence intensity before and after the treatment.

“The most significant findings,” declared Xia, “were the successful capture of micro/nanoplastics […] with high removal efficiency for both nanoplastics (92%) and microplastics (70%).”

Not only that, but MARs could be recycled for further use by washing off the captured plastics. Small amounts of their magnetite coating were also washed away, but they still preserved around 80% efficiency for capturing nanoplastics and 54% for microplastics even after five cycles of washing, after which they could simply don a fresh coat of magnetite and be back to full potency.

“MARs could potentially be tested in salt water since their magnetically driven movement is not affected by salinity,” mentioned Xia. “However, the study is still in the initial stage.

“It’s important to further study the biodegradability and potential long-term environmental effects of these nanoparticles to ensure they do not lead to toxicity issues.” But things seem promising on that front.

“Generally, iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles are considered biocompatible and have been already employed in various environmental and biomedical applications,” said Xia. “In addition, in our case, the nanoparticles can be easily collected by a permanent magnet at the end of the process, ensuring that no particles are left to contaminate the water.”

Further development

Not all plastics polluting our waters are positively charged, though. Many are negatively charged under normal aquatic conditions, meaning MARs wouldn’t be able to capture them through their current built-in electrostatic interactions.

“Our system on the initial experimental stage is kind of limited because MARs only could capture positively charged plastics,” said Xia. “In the future, I also would like to develop a system that can capture negatively charged micro/nanoplastics. But now, I need time to think about it.

“I think the utilization of natural sources, like algae cells, to accomplish specific tasks is highly promising. I believe if developed enough, MARs would be sufficient to deal with the recovery of micro/nanoplastics.

“It’s possible they could complement other methods rather than entirely replace them. This may include their combination with other functional nanoparticles, which can allow MARs to perform other tasks.”

Reference: Martin Pumera, et al., Biohybrid Magnetically Driven Microrobots for Sustainable Removal of Micro/Nanoplastics from the Aquatic Environment, Advanced Functional Materials (2023). DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202307477

Feature image: Algae-based microrobots under fluorescence. Credit: Xia Peng, et al.

Story 1st appeared on www.advancedsciencenews.com by Diogo Pinheiro | Oct 26, 2023

Defeating blue-green algae: Meet the advanced MegaShark

SUSTAINABILITY – RanMarine’s aqua drones help clean the water by combating plastics and (blue-green) algae, which plague Dutch waters every summer.

Nothing beats a dip in natural swimming water during a hot summer day, right? But every year, the same question arises again: Is the water safe for swimming, or will these awful blue-green algae prevent us from entering the water? With the WasteShark and MegaShark, RanMarine not only removes plastic waste and unwanted algae. “We are now working hard on developing an advanced MegaShark that can target the harmful and annoying blue-green algae as well,” says Richard Hardiman, CEO of the Rotterdam-based company.

In the ongoing battle against water pollution, RanMarine is making waves with its innovative water drone technology. The company is tackling the global issue of water pollution with the WasteShark and the Mega Shark: high-tech devices that glide through the water, collecting pollutants. “You can compare it to an autonomous vacuum cleaner, but instead of vacuuming your lounge, they vacuum the top thirty centimeters of waterways”, explains Hardiman. The drones are equipped with sensors and cameras and can navigate complex waterways.

The MegaShark
Natural waters face a big problem nowadays: algal blooms. The consequences of excessive algae range from unattractive appearance and unpleasant odors – bad for tourism and overall well-being – to severe disruptions in aquatic ecosystems by depleting oxygen levels and blocking sunlight, damaging plants, and harming the fish. “The blooms are fueled by excessive nutrient runoff of farmer lands and profit from climate change. As temperatures rise and the population grows, we must feed more people. That means more farming and more fertilizers. I foresee that algae will become a huge problem in the future”, Hardiman explains.

Read more here> LINK

Could algae be the sustainable food of the future?

Is now the time to get on board with eating the vegetables of the ocean, asks Lauren Taylor

Figuring out how we can eat more sustainably is going to be an ongoing issue as the world becomes more populated and the climate crisis intensifies. And, from munching on protein-packed insects to lab-grown meat, greener (and animal welfare-conscious) alternatives are being explored – the latest being algae.

It should be no surprise, really, that as we’ve well and truly exploited what’s on land, we were destined to delve further into the sea. But with environmentalists warning of the devastating impacts of overfishing, one expert suggests we need to eat the food from the bottom of the ocean, rather than the top.

Patricia Harvey, professor of biochemistry and head of bioenergy research at the University of Greenwich, says: “We’ve learned on land to eat the vegetables, we haven’t yet learned with regards to the ocean how to eat the vegetables – the algae.”

<p>Algae contains pro vitamin A and omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid</p>

What is ‘ocean flexitarianism’?

It’s a new concept which asks that – like “flexitarianism” or “casual vegetarianism” where people eat a mostly plant-based diet with some meat occasionally – we eat more vegetables from the ocean than fish.

Algae is the umbrella term for a huge, diverse group of aquatic organisms, found in both fresh and seawater, that conduct photosynthesis to generate oxygen. One form of algae most people are familiar with is seaweeds, such as nori and kelp, and Japanese diets in particular include several types. But Harvey believes the untapped potential in sustainable food sources in the ocean is huge.

Why is eating algae sustainable?

“We know we’ve got to feed a lot more people by 2050, the population is growing, and we also know that if we keep on putting intensive agriculture on the land, we’re going to completely screw up the biodiversity,” says Harvey. But we can’t simply turn to the ocean as we are, because we typically eat carnivorous fish like tuna and cod.

“About 70 per cent of the Earth is covered in water and about 97 per cent of that water is ocean. If we just dive into the ocean to feed all those people, if we then turn to the ocean to [only] eat the carnivores, we’ll then mess up the ocean. That’s why it’s incredibly important to get more people to grips with eating algae, the vegetables, at the bottom of the ocean. So we can get a sustainable exploitation of the ocean to feed more people.”

Read full article Independent.co.uk

Is your Sunscreen harming the Ocean?

While eight million metric tons of plastic pollution enter the ocean annually, it’s estimated that six to fourteen thousand tons of sunscreen are also entering our oceans each year. The first you can see, the latter (known as “swimmer pollution”) you can’t really see and this makes it even more dangerous. These days most people are coming to understand just how dangerous plastic pollution is to the ocean due to increased education through social media channels. But there isn’t much awareness out there regarding the damaging effects that sunscreen lotions inflict on our sensitive marine animals and ecosystems.

While we have all been taught to use sunscreen as a way to protect ourselves from skin cancer, we are only starting to understand how harmful the chemicals contained in these products are to the oceans.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. About 2,000 people die from basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer each year and older folks with suppressed immune systems have a higher risk of dying from these types of skin cancer, according to cancer.net.

Effects of sunscreen chemicals in our oceans

The average sunscreen product contains many harmful chemicals, many of which include synthetic organic molecules exactly like those used to make plastic. These molecules do not break down. Instead, they wash off your body once you enter the water and penetrate marine ecosystems, causing havoc and destruction.

Harmful chemicals in sunscreen include Oxybenzone, a common chemical that protects our skin from UV light. Once in the ocean, however, this particular chemical damages the DNA structures of coral reefs and their entire reproduction processes. This, in turn, causes bleaching, deformities, and growth anomalies in the coral. Coral reefs don’t just benefit the ocean, but healthy coral reefs provide billions of dollars in economic and environmental services, such as food, tourism, and coastal protection. The most vulnerable coral reefs under threat from these sunscreen chemicals include fringing reefs that are critical for protecting coastal regions from erosion. Not only that, but dangerous chemicals in sunscreens actually prevent the recovery and restoration of reefs that have already been damaged, creating a vicious cycle of degradation upon degradation.

Effects of sunscreen chemicals in humans

Research has shown that the damage Oxybenzone causes is even more far-reaching, creating gender shifts in fish that cause female fish to produce fewer eggs. If this chemical can affect reproduction in marine animals, imagine the effects on humans. Recent studies have shown that human females with higher concentrations of the chemical in their bodies had a much harder time falling pregnant, while the high concentration in males caused diseased sperm.

Effects of sunscreen chemicals in algae

Oxybenzone doesn’t only destroy certain coral reefs, it also impairs algae growth and photosynthesis, while harming other marine life in the process.

Algae contribute to a healthier ocean since they use up the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, then release oxygen back. Algae also maintain a highly symbiotic relationship with various ocean organisms including sea sponges. Since the algae live near the sponges’ surface, they actually metabolize and produce sugar and oxygen that the sponges need for their very survival. The sponges, in turn, help to protect the algae from their natural predators in the ocean.

Krill feed primarily on algae. Krill are shrimp-like organisms that are fodder to many marine animals including whales, seals, and penguins.

The ocean is an ever-changing watery world filled with marine plants of every kind that are subjected to ocean currents and environmental conditions.

At times certain environmental conditions can cause cold, denser water to sink to the bottom of the ocean, thereby causing other waters to rise in replacement. When this happens you get algal blooms. When there are more algae, there are more compounds produced for organisms such as oysters, mussels, and ultimately, humans. But algae blooms can also be harmful to marine life since a proliferation of surface floating algae can diminish the sunlight reaching marine plants causing dead zones.

While algae blooms can be very problematic, certain algae are very necessary for the maintenance of ecosystems.

Regulatory agencies

There are many regulatory agencies monitoring the damage that chemicals have on our health.  Including the European Chemical Agency that lists many chemicals most commonly used in sunscreen products in Europe. The list is called the Community Rolling Action Plan (CoRAP) and includes ingredients like Formaldehyde, Carbon Tetrachloride, and Methanol. Due to their potential threat to the environment and our personal health, this list has raised the ultimate possibility of a ban. In Hawaii, for example, bans on certain sunscreen product ingredients have already been implemented to safeguard coral reefs in certain coral hotspots.

Harmful chemicals in sunscreens

Another common ingredient in sunscreens is the preservative paraben that inhibits fungal and bacterial growth. Lower concentrations of this preservative can act as endocrine and pheromone disruptors.  Higher concentrations can be acutely toxic to invertebrates.

According to savethereef.org you should avoid sunscreens containing these harmful chemicals:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • PABA
  • Parabens
  • Triclosan
  • Any nanoparticles or “nano-sized” zinc or titanium (if it doesn’t explicitly say “micro-sized” or “non-nano” and it can rub in, it’s probably nano-sized)
  • Any form of microplastic, such as “exfoliating beads”
Looking to the oceans for a solution to improve sunscreens

Just because your sunscreen might be labeled “organic” or have an “organic certification” doesn’t mean it’s safe for the environment. Several plant-based oils can also damage marine life. Take for example 3 common essential oils like neem, eucalyptus, and lavender that are present in some organic sunscreens. These oils act like insect repellants suggesting they are relatively toxic for invertebrates (crabs, squid, lobster, coral, etc).

Sunscreen is vital in protecting us from skin cancer and UVR damage.  But what are the alternatives to commercial sunscreens that are damaging our marine life?

We can actually look to the oceans for protection against UV rays and sun damage. Many marine species who are exposed to the sun on a continual basis have effectively evolved to protect themselves from UVR damage. The way this works is fascinating.

Algae, for example, produces MAA (mycosporine-like amino acids) which act as natural UVR filters. These amino acids then make their way up the food chain. Once they reach coral and other marine life they are essentially stored in the very tissues exposed to UVR like skin, eyes, and eggs. MAA then absorbs the UVR and converts it to light and heat which isn’t broken down by the radiation. Scientists are only beginning to explore the potential that these compounds can have in the production of ocean-friendly sunscreens.

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

So before heading out to enjoy the beach this summer, grab a reef-safe sunscreen. This typically means that the sunscreen contains only mineral UV-blocking ingredients like oxide and titanium dioxide. Be aware that the label “Reef Friendly” isn’t regulated.  Meaning that some products that contain this label don’t necessarily mean what they imply.

Check out this list of reef-friendly sunscreen products at Save the Reef (they also list the sunscreen products that are harmful to reefs).  Be the exception on the beach this summer. Our marine life depends on humans educating themselves about the damaging effects of the chemicals we put on our skins.

For more information, watch our video: Ways to Protect Coral Reefs

Why We Must Tackle Our Sargassum Issue

Over the past number of years, beaches and shores have been covered in sargassum. While this seaweed has some great environmental benefits and is crucial to supporting marine life, there are many issues when it washes up on shores. When on land, this seaweed can threaten both marine life and human life. Not to mention, these large blooms have the ability to discourage visitors and impact the tourism industry. Read on to find out more about sargassum and how we can use data monitoring to solve this prevalent issue.

What is Sargassum?

Sargassum is a type of seaweed that is free-floating. The ocean’s current causes it to travel in the water. Generally, people associate sargassum with being bad and do not want it in their waters. In actual fact, it allows coral reef ecosystems to thrive since it establishes a rich biological habitat. Sargassum is used as feeding grounds, shelter, and nurseries by more than 250 different kinds of fish. Given that, it is of huge importance to marine life.

What is causing an overflow of Sargassum?

Sargassum has been washing up on shores for years, affecting nearby sea life, spoiling beaches, and creating health implications for fishers, boaters, and beach visitors. Scientists traced the source of the sargassum arrival to a new accumulation zone. This zone spanned 5,500 miles, going all the way from Brazil to the coast of West Africa. It is known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt and contains approximately 200 million tonnes of seaweed, as reported in 2018. Before 2010, it was not an issue on anyone’s radar. The ocean currents bring it to the Caribbean, where local current patterns and wind affect where and when it lands on the beaches here.

Recently, satellite observations found an unprecedented belt of sargassum stretching all the way from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, experts are suggesting it is most likely here to stay. The floats of sargassum generally cover thousands of square miles and go incredibly deep into the ocean. So, what is causing this overflow of sargassum? The explosion of sargassum in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Oceans is thought to signify a new normal, according to US scientists. The  factors driving  the  growth of  sargassum  are thought to be fertilizer use and deforestation. As a result of this, the seaweed has covered beaches, making them an environmental issue that has implications for marine life and human health.

Issues with Sargassum?

Sargassum is a growing issue. When large amounts of sargassum wash up on our beaches, it rots. This reduces the amount of oxygen in our coastal waters. Here, it releases methane and hydrogen sulfide. When it does this it traps fish, coral reefs, and marine life. It can have the ability to stabilize and nourish beaches, however, the sheer quantity of the seaweed can have the opposite effect. Beyond having huge implications for marine life, it is also bad for tourism, which many people depend on. The seaweed threatens the image of crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches that entice tourists to the area. When the sargassum begins to rot, it makes beaches smell like rotten eggs which further steer away tourists.

While further research is required, sargassum is hazardous to humans. When sargassum is in the ocean, it does not pose any threats to humans. However, when it has been washed up onto the shore, it begins to rot. When it does this, it releases ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. If humans inhale this even at low levels, it can cause irritation to the eyes and breathing difficulties. On the other hand, if they inhale it at high levels, sargassum can pose threats to their life. With this in mind, it is essential that action is taken to reduce the amount of sargassum overflowing on our beaches.

Benefits of Sargassum?

There have been occurrences where fish have died as a result of sargassum. This is because it blocks the sunlight which lowers oxygen production by seaweed and various other photosynthetic organisms within the water. Once the sargassum dies, the weed decomposes and uses up all oxygen within the water, therefore, causing marine life to die.

In saying that, there are some benefits to this kind of seaweed. Residents can use the seaweed since it does have its share of environmental benefits. In particular, farmers can make use of it as

a free resource in their gardens and use it as mulch, compost, or fertilizer. In addition, this kind of seaweed is a food source, nursery, and home for a wide range of marine life, including crabs, plants, shrimps, turtles, fish, and much more.

Moreover, it helps in developing sand dunes which are an excellent help when restoring eroded beaches. They can also serve as landfills and biofuel. While it has implications when found in large quantities, small amounts of sargassum are critical to marine life.

How can data monitoring make an impact?

It is crucial that we work to reduce the amount of sargassum arriving on our beach shores. We need the benefits of sargassum rather than the issues. This can be achieved via data monitoring. In other words, we need to further explore sargassum to find out how to reduce it.

RanMarine Technology developed the world’s first data harvesting surface vessel called the DataShark. It focuses on collecting and collating water quality health data from waterways in any environment. It provides real-time data logging with GPS tagging. The DataShark makes sure data collection is an accurate and quick process. This is all to ensure our waters are safe for everyone.

Key Takeaways?

Sargassum can play an important role in our oceans. However, in recent years, large quantities of sargassum have been discovered on our beaches which poses great threats to marine life and human life. It is important that we act now to reduce the amount of sargassum washing up on our shores. However, it is even more crucial that we learn more about this kind of seaweed so that we can develop strategies to tackle this issue. Data monitoring could prove exemplary in helping us to find ways to reduce the sargassum on our beaches.

Reducing Harmful Green-Algae Blooms Is Crucial to Protecting Aquatic Life

Algae blooms are essential in maintaining a healthy body of water and a great deal of attention has been brought to them in the past number of years. This is because of the harmful impact they can have on the environment, human health, aquatic life and animals. Not all algae blooms are harmful. It is crucial to know which ones are so we can create strategies to ensure our environment and all the beings living on it are protected. Keeping our waters clean is ever more important. We use water for everything from cooking to drinking to cleaning and much more.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae is a kind of bacteria known as cyanobacteria. It is naturally occurring and a component found in freshwater environments. It’s considered crucial for maintaining a healthy body of water because it produces oxygen. Not to mention, it’s also a source of nutrition for particular marine animals. Responding to certain conditions, Blue-green algae could undergo a population explosion known as blooms.

These conditions involve slow or still-flowing water, warm days with lots of sun and high amounts of nutrients, in particular phosphorus and nitrogen. These blooms occur under natural conditions. Blue-green algal blooms can have an appearance similar to that of spilled green paint or pea soup and are not always uniform. They can sometimes be small and cover less of a lake with visible algae present. Blue-green algal blooms are also not always dense and large. When the cells break down, they create a swamp-like odour.

What’s the problem with algae blooms?

Areas where aquatic creatures are unable to survive due to low oxygen levels are known as dead zones. Generally dead zones are caused by substantial nutrient pollution. Primarily, they are an issue for lakes, bays and coastal water because they are provided with additional nutrients from upstream sources.

The additional phosphorus and nitrogen results in overgrowth of algae and this occurs in just a short period of time (algae blooms). They block sunlight and consume oxygen from the underwater plants. Once the algae finally dies, the oxygen within the water is consumed. Since the oxygen is widely reduced, this makes it very challenging for aquatic creatures to live.

The biggest dead zone within the United States, for example, is the Gulf of Mexico. It is roughly 6,500 square miles and occurs each summer. This is as a direct result of the nutrient pollution that occurs in the Mississippi River Basin.

Some of these algae blooms are known as harmful algal blooms. These blooms are considerably large and produce toxins or chemicals. They typically occur in reservoirs, ponds, bays, rivers, coastal waters and lakes.

Beyond the threats to water quality and aquatic life, algae blooms also have implications for humans, other animals and the environment. When they occur, they interfere with other uses of the water. This can impact human health and has implications for the economy and the planet. They impact water quality by creating unpleasant odours and tastes in addition to scum and discolouration.

It can also be toxic. In other words, contact with large amounts of blue-green algae can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. In serious situations, they can damage the human nervous system and liver. Exposure to blue-green algae blooms has been linked to the death of livestock, pets and wildlife.

As the bloom becomes less intense, decaying and dead algae can lower oxygen levels within the water. This has a direct effect on aquatic animals, causing them to experience stress or could even result in fatalities. During times of drought, algae blooms can severely degrade aquatic ecosystems.

Not all algae blooms are deemed harmful. Some examples of harmful algal blooms that pose implications for aquatic ecosystems, human health and the economy include red tides, cyanobacteria and blue-green algae.

What actions can I take to prevent being harmed by algae blooms?

There are a number of actions you can take to protect yourself from the impacts of green-blue algae blooms. Firstly, if you come into contact with this kind of algae, you should wash your skin thoroughly afterwards. In addition, you should steer clear from using untreated river or lake water for cooking, drinking or brushing your teeth. Many treatment steps are required to remove algae toxins. Therefore, a simple treatment will not cut it. The water could be contaminated and cause irritation to the skin. Another way to prevent yourself from being harmed by algae blooms is to not eat fish from these algae-laden waters.

Is there a way to get rid of harmful algae blooms?

There is no way to fully remove blue-green algae from lakes. This is because while they are harmful, they are an essential component of the overall algal community. Rather than thinking about ways to remove them, we need to think about how to control the frequency and intensity of harmful algae blooms. Controlling the water temperature is out of our means. Therefore, the best action we can take is to lower the number of nutrients that enter these waters. Lowering the nitrogen and phosphorus levels within man-made sources is one of the best ways to accomplish this. This reduction will not occur overnight, but taking this approach is the best long-term solution to lowering the intensity of frequency of these blooms.

A solution does exist

Toxic algae blooms are a global issue and they are accelerating at a frightening rate in our rivers, lakes, reservoirs and oceans. The results of these blooms in our waters can be extreme. They are wiping out aquatic life, threatening human and animal health and our planet. Not to mention, they are impacting local communities and industries like tourism and fishing. While there is no way to entirely eradicate these blooms, we can work to control them. There are actions we can take as individuals to protect our own health. Not to mention, there are also ways we can reduce the intensity and frequency of these blooms by reducing the phosphorus and nitrogen levels in man-made sources.

RanMarine Technology created the world’s first autonomous data harvesting surface vessel to be deployed commercially, known as DataShark. Focussing on collecting and collating water quality health data from waterways in any environment the DataShark is capable of multiple sensor configurations, real-time data logging with GPS tagging.

DataShark can be configured with different sensors to help monitor temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, blue-green algae, crude, refined oils and more. Any data you collect is immediately available for reporting and analysis through the WasteShark Data Portal.

Whether you run a smart city, water district or an organization, the DataShark helps ensure that data collection is quick and accurate ensuring our waters are safe for everyone.