CA Imaging FlowCytobot Network

The California Imaging Flowcytobot Network (CA IFCB Network) is a statewide network of automated in situ phytoplankton measurements in order to implement an automated early warning system for the detection and identification of a suite of potential Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) to enable rapid response and better decision-making. The CA IFCB Network heavily leverages infrastructure from several federally funded programs, notably the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) and the Central and Northern California Observing System (CeNCOOS). 

The CA IFCB Network is comprised of 12 state-of-the-art Imaging FlowCytobots (IFCBs) developed by McLane Research Laboratories Inc., which takes photos of particles in the water. Machine learning algorithms are then applied to classify the species present. 

This project is overseen by the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


A statewide network of Imaging FlowCytobots (IFCBs) are deployed at the following critical land-based locations: 

  1. Hog Island 
  2. Bodega Pier
  3. San Francisco Bay (Pier 17)
  4. Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf
  5. Monterey Bay (Power Buoy)
  6. Stearns Wharf 
  7. Newport Beach Pier 
  8. Del Mar Mooring 
  9. Scripps Pier 

Many of the instruments are also deployed on the following cruises:

  1. NOAA Fisheries Trinidad Head Line 
  2. Santa Barbara Channel LTER and Plumes and Blooms Cruises 
  3. OCSD Southern California Bight Regional Water Quality Program 
  4. CalCOFI Cruises 


  • Phytoplankton 

Data Access

Principal Investigators and Collaborators 


  • California Ocean Protection Council Proposition 1. "Implementation of an Automated Early Warning System for Harmful Algal Bloom Events in California." 
  • NOAA U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS) and National Center for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) - National HAB Observing Network Pilot Projects. 
  • NOAA Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) and Prevention, Control and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms Program (PCMHAB). "Integrated Modeling of the Harmful Genus Pseudo-nitzschia spp. to Support Ecosystem Prediction and Environmental Management in the Southern California Current System."
  • Orange County Sanitation District 
  • Southern California Coastal Water Research Project 
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute 
  • Simons Foundation