A tool for use in marine sciences is the flow "cytometer," an instrument at the heart of the J.J. MacIsaac Facility for Individual Particle Analysis.

The flow cytometer measures bulk cells, their composition, numbers, and distribution.

By measuring the abundance of chlorophyll ("green plant pigment") in phytoplankton samples, it is possible to assess the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans.

This technology has been enhanced with the FlowCam, a Bigelow-developed instrument used to electronically count, measure, and identify individual phytoplankton cells.

This type of instruments may be used to identify specific organisms that are potentially toxic to marine life and humans.