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Scientists report first remote, underwater detection of harmful algae, toxins
Date:7/14/2009

D., targeted certain members of the algal genus Pseudo-nitzschia and their neurotoxin, domoic acid in Monterey Bay, Calif.

Pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid have been a concern in the Monterey Bay area for well over a decade. In 1991, the first U.S. outbreak of domoic acid poisoning was documented in Monterey Bay. This outbreak resulted in the unusual deaths of numerous pelicans and cormorants that ingested sardines and anchovies, which had accumulated the domoic acid by feeding on a bloom of the toxic algae.

In the spring of 1998, a mass mortality of sea lions in and around the Monterey Bay area was attributed to the sea lions' feeding on domoic acid contaminated anchovies. Since that time, Pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid have appeared on virtually an annual basis in California coastal waters and are the objects of an intensive statewide monitoring program run by the California Dept. of Public Health. Humans also can be affected by the toxin through consumption of contaminated seafood such as shellfish.

"Our public health monitoring program is one of the many groups that can benefit directly from the ESP technology and ability to provide an early warning of impending bloom activity and toxicity," said Gregg Langlois, director of the state of California's Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Program. "This is critical information for coastal managers and public health officials in mitigating impacts on the coastal ecosystem, since the toxicity of these algae can vary widely from little or no toxicity to highly toxic."

Beyond improving forecasting of HABs, this research will contribute to the rapidly emerging U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) by adding a new way to make coastal ocean observations. IOOS is a network of people and technology coordinated by NOAA that work together to generate and disseminate continuous data on our coastal waters, Great Lakes, and oceans.


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Contact: Ben Sherman
ben.sherman@noaa.gov
301-713-3066
NOAA Headquarters
Source:Eurekalert

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