What is “water sampling”

Hoonah Indian Association’s IGAP department joined the SEATOR network in effort to learn as much as we could about factors that could be effecting some of our traditional subsistence resources primarily shellfish.

Phytoplankton take the form of many species and sub species, most of which have little to no effect on human health. In Alaska waters there are 3 phytoplankton species that can cause high levels of toxins to build up in shellfish, making the shell fish unsafe for human consumption; particularly when the right conditions are met, water temp, lots of nutrients, and sun can cause a bloom even to happen. A bloom means that one or more species of phytoplankton are present in number way higher then normal, number can get so high that the water will appear to change colors. one thing to remember is that just because a bloom may be happening doesn’t always mean the toxin producing phytoplankton are present.

Water sampling weekly in the Hoonah Harbor and at Icy Straight Point is the best way we can gather base line data on our water and climate, and look at what phytoplankton are present. To conduct a water sample we start by preforming a net tow which involves towing a small micron net with a bottle attached to the end for 3 minutes. We also fill a 1 liter bottle with water that we run through a filter, the filter is then frozen and later sent to SEATOR for study.

Once we have finished collecting the water sample it is brought back to the HIA Lab, where we look through a portion of the sample using a microscope. Using the microscope images are taking of each species of phytoplankton that are present of each slide examined; the images are then stored in our maintained data base and uploaded to our online data base hosted here on this site accessible with links below.

For more info follow links below

Water Sample Locations

Phytoplankton Image Archive