Moderate Red Tide Predicted for New England

Cysts of Alexandrium fundyense, the algae notorious for producing a toxin that accumulates in clams, mussels, and other shellfish. Photo/Don Anderson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

CapeCodToday: Scientists from the NOAA-funded Gulf of Maine Toxicity (GOMTOX) project issued an outlook for a moderate regional bloom of a toxic alga that can cause “red tides” in the spring and summer of this year, potentially threatening the New England shellfish industry. However, there are signs this year’s bloom could be suppressed by recent changes in ocean conditions in the Gulf of Maine.

Shellfish closures along the New England coastline due to detection of PSP toxins during the 2010 bloom season. Issuance dates of these closures are indicated. Courtesy/D. Anderson lab, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

An abundant seed population in bottom sediments has set the stage for a moderate bloom of the toxic alga Alexandrium fundyense. This organism swims in the water, and divides again and again to form a “bloom” or red tide, but it also produces dormant cells or cysts that fall to the ocean bottom at the end of these blooms where they remain until they germinate the next year to restart the process.

To read more:

Cape Cod Today

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: News Release

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