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 Treatment of saline wastewater during algae utilization
14.05.2019 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

nachricht Plastic gets a do-over: Breakthrough discovery recycles plastic from the inside out
07.05.2019 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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: New studies increase confidence in NASA's measure of Earth's temperature

A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.

The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values...

Im Focus: The geometry of an electron determined for the first time

Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.

The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

On Mars, sands shift to a different drum

24.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Piedmont Atlanta first in Georgia to offer new minimally invasive treatment for emphysema

24.05.2019 | Medical Engineering

Chemical juggling with three particles

24.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>