Researchers Study Cape Cod’s Red Tide

Scientists are fighting back against the toxic red tide that has hurt Cape Cod’s shellfish industry over the last decade. Next week, researchers from the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will begin a three-year study into the cause of red tides in the Nauset Marsh Estuary, according to a report on

The scientists will collect weekly water samples during high tides for 10 weeks and again in 2012 in a search for environmental factors that lead to the toxic algae.

The samples will be analyzed for concentrations of Alexandrium, a red-tide organism that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, and for salinity and nutrients. In the third year, scientists will use that information to test how different environmental factors influence Alexandrium growth, toxicity and persistence.

The estuary has seen incidents of paralytic shellfish poisoning in 18 of the last 19 years. Several of those incidents have led to the temporary closure of shellfish beds, damaging the local shellfish industry.

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Cape Cod Today

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