Smartfin Technology Observes Bioluminescence Event in a New Light

A bioluminescence event in San Diego last month made headlines nationwide, with the glowing dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedra drawing a crowd to the beaches at night. Center affiliated researcher Dr. Phil Bresnahan observed the phenomenon in a different way — during the day, with his Smartfin.

Dr. Bresnahan and the team at Smartfin have outfitted surfboard fins with sensors to measure ocean parameters, in order to better understand how seawater chemistry is changing due to climate change.

Using his group’s “WavepHOx” sensor to measure pH and oxygen and “Smartfin” sensor to measure temperature, his team performed a short surface transect near the Scripps pier around noon on March 9th, during the red tide.

“Figures below show what I’d consider pretty enormous variability in dissolved oxygen (25% range!) and notable patchiness in pH and temperature, considering the small spatial scales (~1,000 m x 500 m),” remarked Dr. Bresnahan. A bioluminescent color scale was used to show variability in familiar terms.

Learn more about the Smartfin project here.

Top photo by Eric Jepsen/UC San Diego
All other photos from SmartFin and Dr. Phil Bresnahan