Southern California Offshore Water Quality Study Launched to Investigate Algal Bloom Potential
Ocean conditions off southern California are now favorable to harmful algal bloom (HAB) formation, says a group that includes researchers at the University of Southern California. This prediction triggered the launch of the Offshore Water Quality Study field program which is using ship sampling, water column mapping, and modeling to characterize algal species, track blooms and identify nutrient sources that may be fueling their increase.
One key trigger was an increased amount of Pseudo-nitzschia—a species known to produce toxic domoic acid that harms marine mammals and humans. Critical to the study success are new autonomous underwater glider technologies, rapid toxin detection kits, and an increased capacity for adaptive sampling supported by the NCCOS’s Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Bloom Program (MERHAB). The field program is part of “Bight ’08,” a study of the Southern California Bight involving dozens of local and regional management agencies and the HAB community.