Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

URI Biological Oceanographers Study Potentially Toxic Microalgae on the Northeast Coast

02.07.2002


The scientific community concurs that the occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs) is increasing worldwide. The annual loss from HABs worldwide is probably more than $1 billion, including both mortality and unmarketable products. The annual human cost has been estimated at 2,000 cases of poisoning with 15% mortality. Because there is no international record of economic loss and human intoxication incidents by HABs, these numbers are almost certainly underestimates.



In a recent issue of Northeastern Naturalist, University of Rhode Island biological oceanographers Paul E. Hargraves and Lucie Maranda described the occurrence of 46 phytoplankton species that are potentially toxic to humans, or harmful to marine life, or both. The area from which they compiled their information includes the southeast coast of Nova Scotia to the Hudson River estuary in New York and out to the edge of the continental shelf. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hargraves and Maranda included in their list species considered potentially toxic to humans if one or more strains of the species is known to produce toxins affecting humans, the species in strongly implicated or proven to cause human illness or fatality, or the species has produced a positive reaction in mammalian toxicity tests. They also included species harmful to marine life if one or more strains are known to produce substances harmful to normal life processes, or the species is strongly implicated or proved to cause mortality under laboratory or natural conditions.


The comprehensive list contained in the article describes each species, its characteristics, location, the level of toxicity, and some of the problems the species has caused to marine plants, animals, and humans.

"We must emphasize that the presence of a species known to be toxic or harmful in other coastal locations does not mean that it is so in our area," said Hargraves. "A number of the species we have included are not known to be harmful in the northeast. Others have caused human or marine harm only in localized areas. And still others are probably recent invasive species.

"The economic cost of harmful algae is significant," added Hargraves. "During the period 1987-1992, for example, the average annual economic cost in the U.S. was $49 million per year, in year 2000 dollars, but singular catastrophic events may individually exceed this average."

Hargraves described a particular bloom of the ordinarily nonharmful dinoflagellateCeratium tripos that occurred in 1976 off the New York-New Jersey coast. When the bloom decayed, it caused anoxia (lack of oxygen) over a wide area, resulting in losses estimated at $1 billion (in year 2000 dollars). While these events may not be predictable, the potential impact of such events can be minimized by rigorous, although costly, monitoring programs.

"On a global scale, eutrophication, aquaculture practices, sediment transport, and the many subtle changes that may accompany global climate modification, can create conditions which are conducive, either directly or indirectly, to bloom development and toxin enhancement in normally benign species," said Hargraves. "The global upward trend in harmful bloom events, the spread of the species involved, and the rise in economic impacts are not encouraging."

The URI Graduate School of Oceanography is one of the country’s largest marine science education programs, and one of the world’s foremost marine research institutions. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, RI, GSO serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions to such problems as acid rain, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and coastal erosion. GSO is home to the Coastal Institute, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Ocean Technology Center, and the National Sea Grant Library.

Contact: Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642, lcugini@gso.uri.edu

Lisa Cugini | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>