Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers issue outlook for a significant New England 'red tide' in 2010

03.03.2010
Seed population on seafloor points to a large 'red tide'; impacts will depend on ocean conditions and weather

Yesterday, scientists from the NOAA-funded Gulf of Maine Toxicity project issued an outlook for a significant regional bloom of a toxic alga that causes 'red tides' in the spring and summer of this year, potentially threatening the New England shellfish industry.

The outlook is based on a seafloor survey of the seed-like cysts of Alexandrium fundyense, an organism that causes harmful algal blooms, sometimes referred to as 'red tides'. Cysts deposited in the fall hatch the following spring; last fall the abundance of cysts in the sediment was 60 percent higher than observed prior to the historic bloom of 2005, indicating that a large bloom is likely in the spring of 2010.

The cyst bed also appears to have expanded to the south, so the 2010 bloom may affect areas such as Massachusetts Bay and Georges Bank sooner than has been the case in past years.

Although the algae in the water pose no direct threat to human beings, toxins produced by Alexandrium can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans who consume them. In order to protect public health, shellfish beds are monitored by state agencies and closed when toxin concentrations rise above a quarantine level. There have been no illnesses from legally harvested shellfish in recent years despite some severe blooms.

Scientists are reluctant to make a "forecast" of precisely where and when the bloom will make landfall because bloom transport depends on weather events that cannot be predicted months in advance.

"Our research has shown that cyst abundance in the fall is an indicator of the magnitude of the bloom in the following year," said Dennis McGillicuddy, a senior scientist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and member of the Gulf of Maine Toxicity project, or GOMTOX. "Even if there is a large bloom offshore, certain wind patterns and ocean currents in the late spring and summer are needed to transport it onshore where it can affect coastal shellfish."

This year's bloom could be similar to the major blooms of 2005 and 2008, according to Don Anderson, a biologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and principal investigator of the GOMTOX study. The 2005 bloom shut down shellfish beds from Maine to Martha's Vineyard for several months and caused an estimated $20 million in losses to the Massachusetts shellfish industry alone.

Government agencies and researchers believe that the regional-scale, seasonal outlook can be useful in preparing for contingencies. "NOAA's goal is to provide tools to prevent, control, or mitigate the occurrence of harmful algal blooms and their impacts," said David M. Kennedy, acting assistant administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service. "This advanced warning, along with updates during the season, can help state agencies prepare for monitoring harmful algal blooms and assessing public health risks."

Early warnings can give shellfish farmers and fishermen the opportunity to shift the timing of their harvest or postpone plans for expansion of aquaculture beds. Area restaurants may also benefit from advance warnings by making contingency plans for supplies of seafood during the summer.

GOMTOX researchers regularly share their field observations and models with more than 80 coastal resource and fisheries managers in six states as well as federal entities like NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

"'Red tide' is a chronic problem in the Gulf of Maine and states have limited resources to handle it," said Darcie Couture, director of Biotoxin Monitoring for the Maine Department of Marine Resources. "When we get this information about the potential severity of a bloom season and the dynamics of the bloom once the season has started, then it gives us an advantage in staging our resources during an otherwise overwhelming environmental and economic crisis."

Ruoying He, associate professor at North Carolina State University and GOMTOX member, will present data and models on the projected bloom at the 2010 Ocean Sciences Meeting today in Portland, Ore.

The GOMTOX project, funded by NOAA's ECOHAB Program, is a collaboration of investigators from NOAA, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, North Carolina State University, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Rutgers University, the Food and Drug Administration, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Other support for Alexandrium studies in the Gulf of Maine is provided by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation (through the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health).

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit: http://www.noaa.gov.

Keeley Belva | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.noaa.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

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: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>