SHABASHI: Study of Harmful Algal Blooms and other Aspects of Sardine Habitat around the Indian subcontinent (2015-2016)

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and their related consequences on fisheries and human health are a global concern. This alerts maritime countries to adopt regular monitoring programmes in their territorial waters. Here we propose to monitor coastal waters of India and Sri Lanka for HABs and related environmental properties. Biological and chemical methods will be adopted for taxonomic and toxin characterization of HAB species, respectively. Remote sensing and mathematical modelling approaches will also be used to aid further understanding of HAB dynamics at larger scale. Efforts would also be made to understand the influence of non-harmful algal blooms in the habitat of the oil sardine (Sardinella longiceps).


  • Analysis of the field data collected during the period of 2013 from Indian and Sri Lankan coast using the new methodology developed in 2014 (continuation of work from 2013 and 2014)
  • Screening of isolated cultures for their toxin potential and expansion of culture collection of harmful algal species
  • HAB training course for Sri Lankan and Indian participants for establishment of common methodology for sampling and analysis, to be held in India in February – March 2015
  • Time series of SPATT bag sample collection on a monthly basis at an extended set of stations along the East and West Coasts of India and off Sri Lanka
  • Concurrent auxiliary data collection at SPATT bag sample collection sites, to include water samples for phytoplankton identification and HPLC pigments, relevant environmental variables (nutrients, oxygen, temperature) and possibly bio-optical measurements on an opportunistic basis.
  • Carry out dinoflagellate cyst analysis from sediment samples at selected sites to study incidences of past blooms.
  • Bio-optical characterization of cultured harmful algal species, with a view to evaluating the potential for distinguishing them from other phytoplankton by remote sensing, and comparison with field observations.
  • Study the inter-annual variation in non-harmful algal species in the diet of sardines, a culturally and economically important exploited species in India.
  • Carry out outreach activities to build awareness and literacy about Marine Science to the coastal communities in Indian states and Sri Lanka.
  • Characterise the incidence of non-harmful phytoplankton blooms in Indian waters.

Study location / Sample sites

The study area is the coastal waters of India and Sri Lanka. Proposed sites for time series data collection are shown on the map below.