October 29, 2013 at 6:13 pm #784MikeKeymaster
I think the time to be “wondering” is over. Gosh, don’t these people
talk to each other, or even do the research?
We’ll see if waht is mentioned in the last paragraph becomes true.
I’ll be looking for some break in the algae out-breaks.
You all keep your eyes and ears open too.
algae bloom is red flag
Northeast’s red tide prompts concerns
By Carolyn Y. Johnson
The Boston Globe
Published June 15, 2005
BOSTON — As Massachusetts officials scramble for disaster relief
for shellfish farmers strapped by the worst bloom of red tide in
decades, scientists are trying to figure out whether the toxic algae
explosion hints at an ecological disaster.
Red tides appear to be on the increase worldwide, fueled in many
cases by nutrient runoff that comes with booming economic
development along the coasts. New England’s bloom, spotted in May,
extends from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Cod and shows no signs of
“This is unlike anything we have observed before, and the situation
is still unfolding. We don’t fully understand why it’s so bad this
year,” said Dennis McGillicuddy, deputy director of the Woods Hole
Center for Oceans & Human Health.
So far, scientists think the huge bloom of microscopic, single-
celled organisms is a natural response to a series of events: Spring
weather pushed the algae toward shore. There, the algae fed off
nutrients in freshwater from the heavy winter’s melt and spring
rainfall. More recently, the late spring sunlight has caused a
The combination “is like sprinkling fertilizer on a lawn,” said
Peter Borrelli, executive director of the Provincetown Center for
Scientists are concerned that the spreading bloom may seed waters
where red tide never struck before, as it did in Nauset Marsh in
1978. Since then, the marsh along Cape Cod has had its own annual
red tide, which appears to be worsening as nearby development
increases. The same thing seems to be happening in Asia.
“Red tide is a natural phenomenon. It happens periodically,” said
Bob Prescott, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s
Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. “But is it exacerbated by the
number of people who live along the coast? Is that in some way
fueling this whole outbreak? You just don’t know until it’s all
Alexandrium fundyense, the algae species that causes New England’s
version of red tide, is poorly understood. Even its most widely
known attribute–it produces a potent neurotoxin–is largely a
mystery. Scientists are divided as to whether the toxin, called
saxitoxin, protects the cells from plankton predators or has no
purpose at all.
Mussels, clams and oysters, which are all filter-feeding mollusks,
can suck in about 2 1/2 gallons of seawater an hour, straining their
plankton meals 24 hours a day. The toxin accumulates as it feeds and
can concentrate enough in a single shellfish to sicken or kill a
person who eats it.
Lobster and most fish don’t filter feed, so they don’t take in
enough algae to become ill.
The tiny algae spend months, sometimes years, in a ball-like form
known as a cyst, buried in sediment on the ocean floor. Those single
cells then divide to form hundreds of microscopic cells floating
near the surface of the ocean. Scientists are trying to understand
these cysts well enough to stop them.
During a research cruise last year, scientists found a significant
increase in cysts since their last survey in 1997.
To ensure public safety, Massachusetts biologists have closed much
of the state’s shoreline to shellfishing.
Fortunately, New England’s red tide is relatively benign compared
with the species found in Florida, which kills fish and manatees,
and can release an airborne toxin that causes respiratory problems
This week, a team from Woods Hole plans to sail south to see whether
the algae are spreading beyond Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
Usually, midsummer is the end of red tide season. Blooms subside as
the water warms, so fewer nutrients remain in the top layer of the
ocean. When the algae are starved, they stop growing and begin
sexual reproduction, creating a cyst, which falls to the bottom of
the ocean–to haunt shellfish farmers another day.
Globe writer Beth Daley contributed to this report.
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