Since 1993 the IOC has conducted training courses on harmful microalgae. The purpose has been to improve the taxonomic and identification skills of the participants for research purposes and for practical monitoring of harmful algal blooms.
As from 2006 the IOC training has been offered within a new framework which gives accreditation. The present course includes now an examination at the end of the course with an IOC Certificate of Proficiency in Identification of Harmful Algae issued to participants who pass the examination. We know by experience that many of the more than 500 trainees we have had over the years have wished the courses to give accreditation. In some countries (e.g. New Zealand), the IOC courses have become a reference for laboratories to be approved for carrying out regulatory monitoring for harmful microalgae.
The course includes 100 hours of teaching and is divided into two parts. 1) The first part of the course is an internet teaching programme giving general introductions to the various groups of harmful algae; this part is mainly for self-study and estimated to 40 hours of reading. 2) The second part is a practical course in species identification including 2 optional workshops in enumeration and culture techniques. It may be possible to participate in both workshops, or alternatively spent the time examining mixed samples from various geographical regions and/or own samples. Part 2 includes 60 hours of teaching and a microscope will be available to each participant during the entire period.
Part I - Distance learning
The distance learning programme is using the UNESCO/IOC platform ‘Ocean Teacher’. The programme consists of 6 modules. There is an introductory text to each module and in some cases also technical documents with information on terminology, sample preparation etc. A short powerpoint presentation with the most important HAB species is included; the full detailed version will be distributed duirng Part II. A few selected articles are including in most modules in the ‘Literature’ folder (this folder can be accessed only by course participants using passwords); more literature will be made available during the practical part of the course.
Part II – Species identification
This part of the course will focus on identification of harmful algal species, with particular reference to the ‘IOC Taxonomic Reference List on Toxic Plankton Algae’. The use of electron microscopy will be introduced, but practical exercises are not included.