The coastal area of East China Sea (ECS) suffers from the harmful algal blooms (HAB) frequently every year in the
warm season. The most common causative phytoplankton algal species of HAB in the ECS in recent years are
Prorocentrum donghaiense (dinoflagellates), Karenia mikimotoi (dinoflagellates which could produce hemolytic and
ichthyotoxins) and Skeletonema costatum (diatom). The discrimination between the dinoflagellates and diatom HAB through ocean color remote sensing approach can add the knowledge of HAB events in ECS and help to the precaution. A series of in-situ measurement consisted of absorption coefficient, total scattering and particulate backscattering coefficient was conducted in the southern coast of Zhejiang Province in May 2009, and the estuary of Changjiang River in August 2009 and December 2010, which encountered two HAB events and a moderate bloom. The Inherent Optical
Properties (IOPs) of the bloom waters have significant difference between phytoplankton species in absorption and
backscattering properties. The chlorophyll a specific absorption coefficient (a*phy(λ)) for the bloom patches (chlorophyll a concentration >6mg m-3) differ greatly from the adjacent normal seawater, with the a*phy(λ) of bloom water lower than 0.03 m2 mg-1 while the a*phy(λ) of the adjacent normal seawater is much higher (even up to 0.06 m2 mg-1). Meanwhile, the backscattering coefficients at 6 wavebands (420, 442, 470, 510, 590 and 700nm) are also remarkably lower for bloom waters (<0.01 m-1) than the normal seawater (> 0.02 m-1). The backscattering coefficient ratio (Rbp(λ)) is much lower for diatom bloom waters than for dinoflagellates types (0.01079 vs. 0.01227). A discrimination model based on IOPs is
established, and several typical dinoflagellates and diatom bloom events including Prorocentrum donghaiense, Karenia mikimotoi and Skeletonema costatum in the ECS are picked out for testing with the MODIS-L2 and L3 ocean color remote sensing products from NASA website. The result proves that the satellite-derived inherent optical properties can be used to HAB detection and the discrimination of HAB species from dinoflagellates and the diatom types in the ECS.