Cinco De Mayo

The Paerl lab celebrated Cinco De Mayo last week with some delicious hot sauce made by our very own graduate student, Malcolm Barnard, featuring Dr. Hans Paerl on the label.

CyanoHAB video

Dr. Paerl & Haley Plaas (PhD candidate) worked with collaborators in UNC’s visual communications master’s program to create this video explaining the importance of CyanoHAB research. Haley’s work in the Paerl lab at UNC-IMS will work towards preventing the expansion of harmful algal blooms to protect  people, pets, wildlife, and our environment.


Paerl Lab Holiday Party 2020

Last week the Paerl lab got together while socially distancing to celebrate the upcoming holidays! Gifts were exchanged, good food was had, and possibly a funny elf video featuring current lab members was viewed. Happy Holidays to you from the Paerl lab!

Hans W. Paerl presentation at 2019 Vernberg Lecture

Dr. Paerl  presented the keynote address, “Mitigating harmful cyanobacterial blooms in a hotter, hydrologically more-extreme world,” for the 2019 Winona B. Vernberg Distinguished Lecture Series on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. Dr. Paerl discussed the importance of continued research of harmful algal bloom management on the Neuse River with environmental health and fisheries management staff as well as academics from North and South Carolina at an invited seminar at the University of South Carolina.

Check out the YouTube video linked above to watch the full presentation

Neuse River Estuary Conditions 27 October 2020

Hi all,

The fish kill that started in late September was still occurring on 27 October. Dying and dead peanut sized (~3″) menhaden were observed from station 70 to station 100. This area seems to be where most of the fish kill activity has been observed. Many of the fish had sores consistent with infection by the water mold, Aphanomyces invadans. In the fish kill zone, water temperatures near 20C and salinities of 5 or less are optimal for growth of A. invadans.

The estuary was highly stratified from New Bern to station 160 and hypoxic bottom waters extended downstream to station 160. Anoxic conditions, indicated by the smell of sulfide, occurred at station 50 through 100. Anoxia is unusual but occasionally occurs during the hottest, calmest periods of the summer when there is moderately high river flow. I don’t recall ever seeing anoxic conditions this late in the season. High chlorophyll a levels were observed near the surface from stations 60 to 160.

Surface waters from station 70 were observed microscopically. The bloom was primarily dominated by the dinoflagellate Gyrodinium instriatum which is not known to be toxic or cause fish kills. Lesser cell densities of the potentially harmful raphidophyte, Heterosigma akashiwo, were also observed. While Heterosigma akashiwo has been repeatedly associated with fish kills in other estuaries, this fall is the first time I am aware of that it has been associated with a fish kill in NC waters. I strongly caution that this association does not imply that H. akashiwo was responsible for the fish kills.

State funding for ModMon has expired. ModMon monitoring activities and these associated reports will be suspended while we pursue other funding options. 

Stay well,


Neuse River Estuary Conditions 13 Oct 2020

Hi all,

Our crew was out Tuesday, 13 October 2020. The estuary was stratified with pockets of hypoxic water observed near New Bern at station 30 and near the bend at stations 100 and 120. The fluorescence probe that measures chl-a failed mid-cast at station 140 and all chl-a data upstream of 140 was removed due to meaningless, negative values. A bloom at station 70, however, was indicated by the high near surface DO, observation of brown water color, and clogging of filters back in the lab. The crew observed fish actively dying south of Fairfield Harbor (our station 70) and fish dead on the surface from there to mid-channel north of Slocum Cr. (our station 100). The dominant species in the bloom, the dinoflagellate Gyrodinium instriatum aka Levanderina fissa)  is not known to be toxic. G. instriatum is the most common bloom former in the Neuse during the summer and early fall and hasn’t previously been associated with a fish kill. This fish kill appears to have been ongoing since 30 September.



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