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Bay Water Quality Report

BART Weekly Report: 9/24/16-9/30/16
Water temperatures continued to cool this week (69-72° F). There is a uniform water column with high winds this week. All stations are reporting normal oxygen conditions for this time of year (>4 mg/L). The Cochlodinium has become more sporadic; earlier this week, the only patches were observed in Mount Hope Bay. It is expected to see the bloom event decline with the cooling temperatures. For more information about Cochlodinium, please see this downloadable fact sheet.

BART Weekly Report: 9/18/16-9/23/16
Water temperatures cooled only slightly this week (72-74° F). The water column is more uniform, with no evidence of stratification. All stations are reporting normal oxygen conditions for this time of year (>3 mg/L). Greenwich Bay is reporting the lowest oxygen readings this week at 3.2 mg/L on average. The NBFSMN stations are still recording the Cochlodinium event as elevated chlorophyll in patches around Narragansett Bay. However, the bloom patches have become more sporadic this week. Chlorophyll levels range between 5-55 µg/L at most stations in Narragansett Bay. Elevated chlorophyll levels were recorded at Mount Hope Bay and Greenwich Bay (>30 µg/L). All other parameters are reporting normal for this time of year. Schools of menhaden have been spotted throughout Greenwich Bay.

BART Weekly Report: 9/11/16-9/17/16
The NBFSMN stations are still recording the Cochlodinium event as elevated chlorophyll in patches around Narragansett Bay. Chlorophyll levels range between 5-55 µg/L at most stations in Narragansett Bay. Elevated chlorophyll was recorded at Mount Hope Bay, Poppasquash Point and Greenwich Bay (>30 µg/L). All other parameters are reporting normal for this time of year. Temperatures continue to cool this week (72-77° F). Also, all stations are reporting normal oxygen conditions for this time of year (>4 mg/L), except Greenwich Cove. In Greenwich Cove, oxygen readings are below 2 mg/L. Schools of menhaden have been spotted in Greenwich Bay.

BART Weekly Report: 9/3/16-9/10/16
RI DEM's Office of Water Resources has been observing and receiving reports of patches of rust-red water visible at the surface in portions of Narragansett Bay, Mount Hope Bay and some RI coastal salt ponds over the past several weeks. RI DEM staff have sampled these red water patches during late August and early September 2016 and identified the causative organism. The red water is caused by a bloom of large numbers of naturally occurring microscopic phytoplankton. More specifically, the rust-tide, as it is commonly referred, observed in RI waters is caused by a dinoflagellate called Cochlodinium polykrikoides. Red water patches sampled in RI waters during the 2016 bloom have contained 1 million to 6 million Cochlodinium cells per liter. Cochlodinium has red photosynthetic pigments which cause the rust-red color visible on the water surface. This "rust tide" should not be confused with "red tide" that has led to shellfish closures in other New England states.

The rust-tide dinoflagellate is non-toxic to humans, even if ingested. However, Cochlodinium produces a hydrogen-peroxide like compound that may damage delicate gill tissue of finfish and shellfish exposed to a concentrated population of the dinoflagellate. Accumulations or blooms of Cochlodinium appear to be a regional phenomenon this summer, with water-discoloring 'rust tides' of Cochlodinium observed in Peconic Bay off the eastern end of Long Island (NY), and in Buzzards Bay (MA) and off Martha's Vineyard (MA). Persistence of this non-toxic bloom in RI waters is highly dependent on weather, but this species generally blooms in warm water and the population is anticipated to decline as water temperature cools to 60° F or less. RI DEM staff will continue to monitor the bloom over the next several weeks.

The NBFSMN stations have been recording this event as elevated chlorophyll. Chlorophyll levels range between 5-45 µg/L at most stations in Narragansett Bay. Elevated chlorophyll were recorded at Conimicut Point, Mount Hope Bay, Poppasquash Point and Greenwich Bay (>30 µg/L). All other parameter are reporting normal for this time of year. Temperatures continue to cool this week (73-78° F). Also, all stations are reporting normal oxygen conditions for this time of year (>4 mg/L).

As of September 10, two new stations were established in Mount Hope Bay, near Cole and Taunton Rivers in Massachusetts. These buoys are funded through MA DEP.

BART Weekly Report: 8/27/16-9/2/16
Temperatures cooled slightly this week (75-79° F). Chlorophyll levels range between 5-35 µg/L at most stations in Narragansett Bay. Elevated chlorophyll was only recorded at Poppasquash Point and Greenwich Bay (>20 µg/L). Overall, conditions at all stations are reporting normal oxygen conditions for this time of year (>4 mg/L).

BART Weekly Report: 8/20/16-8/26/16
Temperatures stayed about the same this week (75-81° F). Chlorophyll levels range between 5-25 µg/L at most stations in Narragansett Bay. A spatial survey led by Brown University this week revealed low dissolved oxygen at surface and at depth in the Seekonk and Providence Rivers (<3mg/L). Hypoxic conditions were observed at the bottom from Phillipsdale to the area off Sabin Point. Low oxygen was also reported in Greenwich Cove. Overall, water south of Conimicut Point were clear, well mixed and normal oxygen conditions for this time of year (>4 mg/L). Water clarity was relatively high throughout the Bay, with overall secchi disk readings about 2 m. Large numbers of comb jellies (phylum Ctenophora) have been observed throughout the Bay.

BART Weekly Report: 8/13/16-8/19/16
With the heat wave, surface temperatures have continued to warm this week (75-81° F). Chlorophyll levels range between 5-25 µg/L throughout Narragansett Bay. As of August 17, most stations are reporting oxygen levels above 4 mg/L. The water column is well mixed and all parameters are normal for this time of year.

BART Weekly Report: 8/6/16-8/12/16
With the heat wave this week, surface temperatures have increase about 2 degrees (73-81° F). Chlorophyll levels range between 5-25 µg/L at most stations in Narragansett Bay. A spatial survey led by Brown University this week revealed low oxygen in the Seekonk and Providence Rivers from Phillipsdale to the southern tip of Fields Point (<3 mg/L). Values near the bottom ranged from 1.06 to 2.2 mg/L and the lowest DO of 0.35 mg/L was measured near the bottom off of Save the Bay on the Edgewood Flats. Greenwich Bay has also been reporting low oxygen (<3mg/L) since August 10. This low oxygen event will be monitored closely. Large numbers of larval crabs (including Genus Portunus and Polyonyx) have been observed throughout the Bay.

BART Weekly Report: 7/30/16-8/5/16
Surface temperatures decreased slightly this week (73-79° F). Chlorophyll levels range between 5-20 µg/L. The Bay is well mixed and most stations are reporting normal conditions for this time of year.

BART Weekly Report: 7/23/16-7/29/16
Surface temperatures continued to increase slightly this week (74-81° F). Chlorophyll levels range between 5-25 µg/L. As of July 27, oxygen levels have increased to concentrations over 3 mg/L in western Greenwich Bay. Most stations are reporting normal conditions for this time of year.

BART Weekly Report: 7/16/16-7/22/16
Surface temperatures continued to increase slightly this week (73-78° F). Chlorophyll levels have declined throughout the week in most areas with levels ranging between 5-25 µg/L. Periods of low oxygen appear to only be persisting in western Greenwich Bay this week. This area is reporting oxygen concentrations below 3 mg/L for about 4-8 hrs per day. This event will be monitored closely. A spatial survey of the Upper Bay area led by Brown University is scheduled for July 28.

BART Weekly Report: 7/9/16-7/15/16
Surface temperatures stayed within the same range as last week (72-77° F). A persistent chlorophyll bloom that began on June 30 in western Greenwich Bay, areas in the Providence River, and areas within Mount Hope Bay has continued (>20 µg/L). These areas are also documenting periods of low oxygen (<3 mg/L) about 4 to 8 hours per day. Greenwich Cove is reporting near anoxic conditions (<1 mg/L). These events will continue to be monitored closely.

BART Weekly Report: 7/2/16-7/8/16
Surface temperatures continued to increase this week (72-77° F). As of June 30, a chlorophyll bloom has been observed in western Greenwich Bay, areas in the Providence River, and areas within Mount Hope Bay (>20 µg/L). As a result, water clarity has declined this week. These areas are also documenting periods of low oxygen (<3mg/L) about 4 to 8 hours per day. These events will be monitored closely. A spatial survey, led by Brown University, is scheduled for next week. Other observations this week include large numbers of larval crabs (Genus: Portunus and Polyonyx) throughout the Bay.

BART Weekly Report: 6/25/16-7/1/16
Surface temperatures continue to increase this week (68-75° F). As of June 28, a chlorophyll bloom has been documented in western Greenwich Bay and Greenwich Cove (>20 µg/L). Western Greenwich Bay is also presently experiencing periods (4-6 hours per day) of low oxygen (<3 mg/L). All other stations are reporting normal conditions for this time of year.

BART Weekly Report: 6/18/16-6/24/16
Surface temperatures continue to increase this week (67-74° F). As of June 19, oxygen levels in the Upper Bay have begun to decline; however, they do remain above 3 mg/L at all stations. All other parameters are normal for this time of year.

BART Weekly Report: 6/11/16-6/17/16
Surface temperatures have increased slightly this week (67-71° F). The water column throughout the Upper Bay is fairly uniform due to strong winds earlier in the week. As a result, all parameters are normal for this time of year. A spatial survey led by Brown University, conducted on 6/16/16, showed only one location in the Providence River with low oxygen (<3 mg/L). The rest of sample area of the Upper Bay, including Greenwich Bay, reported dissolved oxygen readings all above 3 mg/L.

BART Weekly Report: 6/4/16-6/10/16
Surface temperatures have increased slightly this week (67-69° F). The water column throughout the Upper Bay is fairly uniform due to the strong winds throughout most of the week. As a result, all parameters are normal for this time of year. Dissolved oxygen readings are above 3 mg/L. A spatial survey led by Brown University will be conducted this coming week.

BART Weekly Report: 5/29/16-6/3/16
The buoys were deployed throughout Narragansett Bay this week. The first reports show all parameters are normal for this time of year. Dissolved oxygen readings are above 3 mg/L. Surface bay temperatures are 66-68° F on average. Schools of menhaden have been observed in the Upper Bay.

BART Weekly Report: 10/3/15-10/9/15
Narragansett Bay water temperatures cooled about 4 degrees this week (60-62° F). Bay waters are well mixed. All physical water quality parameters are normal for this time of year.

BART Weekly Report: 9/26/15-10/2/15
Narragansett Bay water temperatures continued to cool (65-67° F). Bay waters are well mixed with the strong winds this week. All physical water quality parameters are normal for this time of year.

BART Weekly Report: 9/19/15-9/25/15
Narragansett Bay water temperatures continued to cool this week (68-70° F). Bay waters are well mixed. All physical water quality parameters are normal for this time of year.

BART Weekly Report: 9/12/15-9/18/15
Narragansett Bay water temperatures have begun to cool this week (69-73° F). Bay waters are well mixed with the lack of rain. Greenwich Bay reported some low oxygen on September 14 (<3 mg/L), but as of September 15, all oxygen levels recorded are normal for this time of year (DO >3 mg/L). Chlorophyll levels are normal at all stations for this time of year (<20 µg/L).

BART Weekly Report: 9/5/15-9/11/15
Narragansett Bay water temperatures stayed within the same range again this week (73-79° F). Bay waters are well mixed with the lack of rain. Chlorophyll and oxygen levels are normal for this time of year (chlorophyll >20 µg/L and DO >3 mg/L).

This has been a good year for menhaden in the Bay. As such, we expect schools of this species to continue to be found throughout the Bay, including areas that may be stressful to the fish in terms of water temperature and oxygen levels. When fish appear stressed, they sometimes exhibit odd swimming behaviors. Because of the high water temperatures in recent weeks, we expect the threat to schooling menhaden to continue. The threat will dissipate once any large storms coming through flush the cove areas and water temperatures cool. Cove areas of concern for these threats are the upper Potowomut (Hunt) River and the Pawtuxet Cove near the Pawtuxet falls. Stressed fish may congregate in small coves like this due to predator behavior (bluefish and striped bass). The coves with stressed fish are being monitored by scientists from RIDEM F&W.

BART Weekly Report: 8/29/15-9/4/15
Narragansett Bay water temperatures stayed about the same again this week (73-79° F). The Bay experienced spring tide conditions, increasing mixing. As a result, no low oxygen has been observed since August 30 in the Upper Bay, Greenwich Bay, and Mount Hope Bay. Chlorophyll levels continue to be elevated in Greenwich Bay this week (>20 µg/L). Water clarity or secchi disc readings fare between 1-2 meters depending upon location in the Bay.

Several schools of alewife, menhaden, and bluefish have been documented throughout the Bay again this week.

BART Weekly Report: 8/22/15-8/28/15
Narragansett Bay water temperatures stayed about the same this week (73-79° F). On 8/25/15, a spatial survey was conducted by Brown, Save the Bay, and URI/GSO. The survey showed low oxygen in the Providence River, Bristol Harbor, and western Greenwich Bay (DO <3 mg/L). Based on the buoy data, this low oxygen event began on 8/24/15-present. Chlorophyll levels continue to be elevated in Greenwich Bay and the Providence River this week (>25 µg/L). These events will be monitored closely.

Several schools of menhaden and bluefish have been documented this week throughout the Bay.

BART Weekly Report: 8/15/15-8/21/15
Narragansett Bay water temperatures have increased about 2 degrees this week (73-78° F). All water quality parameters are normal for this time of year in the Upper Bay. No low oxygen was observed at the buoy locations throughout the Bay (>3 mg/L). As of 8/19/15, Chlorophyll levels have been elevated in Greenwich Bay (>25 µg/L).

Rhode Island contacts for sightings of the crab:

Kevin R. Cute, Marine Resources Specialist
Coastal Resources Management Council
Stedman Government Center
4808 Tower Hill Road
Wakefield, Rhode Island 02879
Phone: 401-783-3370
Fax: 401-783-3767
Email: kcute@crmc.ri.gov

Chris Deacutis, Chief Scientist
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
URI Bay Campus 02882
Phone: 401-874-6217
Fax: 401-874-6869
Email: deacutis@gso.uri.edu

David Gregg, Executive Director
RI Natural History Survey
PO Box 1858
Kingston, Rhode Island 02881
Phone: 401-874-5800
Fax: 401-874-5868
Email: dgregg@rinhs.org



Rev. 8/29/16