Project Merit: Environmental Analysis

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Nautilus Environmental (San Diego, CA) for its successful real-time evaluation of aquatic species’ exposures to toxic substances. Under current EPA methods for the giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), gametophyte spores are released in the laboratory, then directly exposed to test material. Because the spores are mobile and microscopic, it is difficult to conduct real-time in situ exposures to better characterize dynamic environments (i.e., stormwater plumes). In partnership with AMEC and the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), and using SPAWAR’s SEA-Ring technology, Nautilus conducted field tests in which kelp blades were exposed to the receiving environment in situ during storm events at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and at Naval Base San Diego. Spores from the blades exposed in the field were released into clean seawater and a copper reference series in the laboratory and allowed to continue to the standard EPA endpoint. Results indicate that field-exposed sporophyll blades show comparable dose response and sensitivity. This work confirms that in situ kelp exposure for toxicity evaluations is possible at the sporophyll level and may have future implications for stormwater or other sites and projects that would benefit from relevant in situ monitoring methods.