Genomic sensors

Sensors: Underwater Research of the Future (SURF Center)

 A  second generation ESP is deployed off the Santa Cruz pier. Photo © MBARI

The Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) pumps water through a filter and retains all particles/organisms larger than 0.2 micrometers. Using molecular biology techniques on the filtered material, the ESP can:

  1. Identify the type and quantity of microorganisms and animals present in the water,
  2. Monitor the appearance of toxins and other biological compounds, and
  3. Investigate how marine microbes respond to seasonal variation and a changing climate

Data from these tests can be sent to shore in near real-time, allowing scientists and policy makers to make rapid decisions related to beach safety or shellfish harvesting. Additionally, the persistent presence of the ESP allows for the capture of episodic or very short-lived events.

Harmful algal blooms (HABs)

The ESP was originally developed for detection of harmful algae blooms (HABs); both the harmful algae and their toxins can be used as targets of the ESP.

Water quality

The ESP has proven to be a valuable tool for monitoring human threats to water quality.

ESP Web Portal

The Environmental Sample Processor web portal provides near-real time access to the results of molecular assays conducted at sea as well as data on the environmental conditions during sampling.


Kevin Gomes

Information Engineering Group Lead

John Ryan

Senior Research Specialist


Upper-ocean systems
Acoustical ocean ecology
Acoustic instruments
Acoustic fingerprinting
Acoustic community ecology
Acoustics in the news
Biological oceanography
Global modes of sea surface temperature
Krill hotspots in the California Current
Nitrate supply estimates in upwelling systems
Chemical sensors
Chemical data
Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory in Elkhorn Slough
Listing of floats
SOCCOM float visualization
Periodic table of elements in the ocean
Biogeochemical-Argo Report
Profiling float
Interdisciplinary field experiments
Ecogenomic Sensing
Genomic sensors
Field experiments
Harmful algal blooms (HABs)
Water quality
Environmental Sample Processor (ESP)
ESP Web Portal
In the news
Ocean observing system
Midwater research
Midwater ecology
Deep-sea squids and octopuses
Food web dynamics
Midwater time series
Respiration studies
Zooplankton biodiversity
Seafloor processes
Revealing the secrets of Sur Ridge
Exploring Sur Ridge’s coral gardens
Life at Sur Ridge
Mapping Sur Ridge
Biology and ecology
Effects of humans
Ocean acidification, warming, deoxygenation
Lost shipping container study
Effects of upwelling
Faunal patterns
Previous research
Technology development
High-CO2 / low-pH ocean
Benthic respirometer system
Climate change in extreme environments
Station M: A long-term observatory on the abyssal seafloor
Station M long-term time series
Monitoring instrumentation suite
Sargasso Sea research
Antarctic research
Geological changes
Arctic Shelf Edge
Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics
Coordinated Canyon Experiment
CCE instruments
CCE repeat mapping data
Monterey Canyon: A Grand Canyon beneath the waves
Submarine volcanoes
Mid-ocean ridges
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Hydrothermal systems
Back arc spreading ridges
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Continental margin seamounts
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California borderland
Hot spot research
Hot-spot plumes
Magmatic processes
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Hydrothermal systems
Flexural arch
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ReefGrow software
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Submarine volcanism cruises
Volcanoes resources
Areas of study
Bioluminescence: Living light in the deep sea
Microscopic biology research
Open ocean biology research
Seafloor biology research
Automated chemical sensors
Methane in the seafloor
Volcanoes and seamounts
Hydrothermal vents
Methane in the seafloor
Submarine canyons
Earthquakes and landslides
Ocean acidification
Physical oceanography and climate change
Ocean circulation and algal blooms
Ocean cycles and climate change
Past research
Molecular ecology
Molecular systematics
SIMZ Project
Bone-eating worms
Gene flow and dispersal
Molecular-ecology expeditions
Ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases
Emerging science of a high CO2/low pH ocean