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Algal Community Study Advances Ciguatera Management in Pacific Islands Region

Populations of Gambierdiscus, the algae most often associated with ciguatera fish poisoning, have been found to have only low or moderate toxicity on the western coast of Marakei Island in the Republic of Kiribati—a section of the island considered a high-risk area for ciguatera for decades.

This unexpected finding is part of a recent NCCOS-funded study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the distribution, community composition, and toxicity of algae species linked to ciguatera fish poisoning on this highly populated Pacific Ocean atoll. During their field sampling in the region, the team also documented three potential new species of Gambierdiscus.

Marakei residents depend on fishing for sustenance and income, and the loss of fishing areas due to ciguatera has great impact on this island community. Ciguatera is a foodborne illness caused by eating certain fish whose flesh is contaminated with toxins originally produced by microscopic, marine algae.

This study was published in the journal Harmful Algae.

For more information, contact Marc.Suddleson@noaa.gov.

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Shorter web link for sharing: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=11977

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