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Gulf of Maine Harmful Algal Bloom Forecast Will Help Region Prepare

On February 24, researchers with the NOAA-funded Gulf of Maine Toxicity (GOMTOX) project will issue an advisory on the projected bloom of Alexandrium fundyense in the Gulf of Maine in 2010 at the Ocean Sciences meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Although the algae pose no direct threat to human beings, toxins produced by this species can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans who consume them.  In order to protect the public, state authorities shut down shellfish beds affected by blooms.

In 2008, bed closures from Maine to Martha’s Vineyard caused an estimated $50 million in losses to the Massachusetts shellfish industry alone.  Due to effective monitoring by state agencies, there have been no illnesses from legally harvested shellfish in recent years despite some severe blooms during those periods.

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