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Investigating a Fish-killing Karlodinium bloom in Weeks Bay, Ala.

Violet Goby showing hemorrhaging characteristic of karlotoxin exposure. Photo courtesy of Lucie Novoveska

Violet Goby showing hemorrhaging characteristic of karlotoxin exposure. (Credit: Lucie Novoveska)

In late September 2007, the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Event Response Program provided funds to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Alabama Department of Public Health, and University of Maryland to support sampling and toxin analysis during a highly toxic bloom of Karlodinium veneficum in the Weeks Bay (Alabama) National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) site. The Karlodinium bloom began in late June and was associated with five fish kills from June through late September, including one event in which several thousand Violet Gobies died. Toxin analysis confirmed karlotoxin in tissues of Violet Gobies. The Karlodinium bloom was then followed by a dense bloom of Kryptoperidinium folaceum that lasted through October. The Karlodinium bloom was consistently found where the Fish River and Weeks Bay converge, and initial results indicated higher nitrogen and phosphorus than observed in previous years. Sampling and analysis during these bloom events will be beneficial for discovering bloom causation and for formulating a management plan that protects the resources of the Weeks Bay NERRS site.

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