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Research Paper Documents History, Impacts of West Coast Harmful Algae Species

A recent research paper presents the state-of-knowledge on harmful algae along the west coast of North America. Along the Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico, harmful algal blooms (HABs) are responsible for losses to natural resources and coastal economies, and have sickened and killed humans and animals for decades. Recent reports indicate a possible increase in their prevalence and the impacts of these events on living resources over the last 10–15 years.

Two types of HABs pose the most significant threat to coastal ecosystems in the west coast region: dinoflagellates called Alexandrium, Gymnodinium, and Pyrodinium that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, and diatoms of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia that produce domoic acid, the cause of amnesic shellfish poisoning in humans.  Problems from other species are less widespread but locally significant and these blooms could be on the increase as well.

This paper is a step toward meeting the need for a West Coast regional integration of outreach, research, and management efforts.


Read the paper: Lewitus, Alan J., et al. 2012. Harmful algal blooms along the North American west coast region: History, trends, causes, and impacts. Harmful Algae 19 (September): 133–159.

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Shorter web link for sharing: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=7287

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