Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Testing: SPATT

Standard Operating Procedure for SPATT


collecting mussels


Monitoring for marine toxins is a critical component of coastal management. Traditional phycotoxin monitoring uses mussels or other shellfish as "sentinel" species - tissues are routinely analyzed for the presense of toxins. Mussel testing occurs at the Santa Cruz Wharf weekly.

Domoic acid, which is produced by species of Pseudo-nitzschia and common in Monterey Bay, can remain undetected in shellfish tissue. Our lab is experimenting with a new phycotoxin monitoring tool known as Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Testing, or SPATT.

  SPATT deployed

SPATT bags   SPATT employs a synthetic resin contained in a mesh bag. The bags are suspended from ropes under the Santa Cruz Wharf, and absorb dissolved domoic acid from the water.

After a week in the water, the SPATT bags are brought back to the lab, where the domoic acid is extracted from the resin. Click here for an example of SPATT results.   lab work


University of California Santa Cruz
Ocean Sciences Department
Santa Cruz CA 95064