Alexandrium “Red Tide” in New England in 2006
NOAA’s extramural, intramural, and event response efforts helped managers and researchers predict and respond to the Alexandrium (also known as “New England Red Tide”) bloom in 2006. NCCOS funding awarded in 2005 as follow-up to that year’s bloom (see press release) supported new maps of Alexandrium cyst seedbeds (which gave a preliminary indication of bloom potential in 2006) and supported research cruises for monitoring Alexandrium abundance and distribution in New England waters from March-June 2006.
Researchers began monitoring in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts waters bi-weekly in late March and weekly in May — a critical time for assessing bloom potential and extent for 2006. In addition, a CSCOR-supported Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) survey on the R/V Oceanus (June 6-17, 2006) assessed offshore Alexandrium populations from Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy, and alerted Maine officials to a hot-spot off of Casco Bay.
NCCOS Event Response funding also helped the state of Maine mitigate the bloom impacts on Casco Bay shellfisheries. The NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, in conjunction with WHOI, deployed drifters within the Alexandrium bloom to predict bloom movement and guide sampling. WHOI also ran models that were developed with NCCOS funding and facilitated rapid communication of data and model results between researchers and managers. NOAA National Weather Service supplied meteorological data needed for model predictions.