Scientists are discovering why blooms of harmful algae are often seen along the U.S. Northwest Coast. This image was taken on September 29, 2004 and shows a large bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia, a toxic algae, off the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE.
"Hot Spot" for Toxic Algal Blooms Discovered off Washington Coast
News story originally written on January 30, 2009
Scientists are trying to learn why blooms of toxic algae are forming in the Straight of Juan de Fuca, a part of the ocean that separates Washington State from British Columbia, Canada. When there's a toxic algae bloom, the toxins accumulate in shellfish and beaches have to be closed where people go for fishing and recreation.
Scientists have learned that the Juan de Fuca eddy often has large populations of the microscopic toxic alga, Pseudo-nitzschia. This biotoxin can be harmful to humans or can cause death in birds, marine mammals and humans who eat affected marine species. Toxic algae can also hurt the economy in coastal communities that contain commercial fisheries, recreation, and tourism.
"Understanding how and where harmful algal blooms originate will help provide early warnings to protect human health and reduce the impact of biotoxins on coastal shellfisheries," said Vera Trainer, a scientist at the NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.
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