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Harmful Algal Cyst Mapping in Washington Shows 10-fold Increase since 2013

An unprecedented bloom of the harmful alga Alexandrium occurred during Fall 2014 in Quilcene Bay, Hood Canal, Puget Sound, WA; the outbreak contaminated shellfish with potent biotoxins that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. The area of the bloom was historically biotoxin free, but at the peak of the event, the Washington State Department of Health detected toxin […]

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Puget Sound Harmful Algal Blooms Linked to Seasonal Patterns and Survival Probability

In order to predict blooms and prevent undue economic loss of commercial shellfish in Puget Sound, NCCOS has sponsored research investigating the seasonal patterns and mechanisms of bloom formation of Alexandrium, a dinoflagellate that contaminates shellfish and causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans. The study shows Alexandrium survives and spreads in Puget Sound in response to […]

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NCCOS, Partners Improve Aquaculture Siting and Production in Puget Sound

NCCOS and partners are using computer modeling to determine the carrying capacity for shellfish aquaculture—and the related potential for nutrient removal—in South Puget Sound. The team’s methodologies and guidelines will be used to inform marine spatial planning activities locally and throughout the U.S., promoting sustainable shellfish aquaculture and providing a framework for addressing issues that commonly lead […]

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The Craib Corer: Predicting Harmful Algal Blooms by Sampling the Seafloor

Forecasting harmful algal blooms is a complex endeavor involving a wide range of oceanographic disciplines. NCCOS scientists and sponsored researchers count the number of harmful algal bloom (HAB) resting stages or cysts that lie on the bottom of the ocean as one method to estimate the future occurrence of HABs. Scientists use a suite of […]

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Assessing Future Harmful Algal Bloom Risk for Washington State

In Puget Sound, the toxic alga Alexandrium catenella threatens the health of people who eat shellfish contaminated with toxins it produces. An NCCOS Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) project, Puget Sound Alexandrium Harmful Algal Blooms, annually mapped “seedbeds” of Alexandrium resting stages (cysts) at about 100 locations on the bottom throughout Puget Sound. The project […]

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Common Coastal Seaweeds Release Toxins Harmful to Marine Organisms

A new study has found that compounds excreted by common coastal green seaweeds, or sea lettuce, detrimentally affect other organisms. The green seaweed Ulvaria obscura forms blooms in the intertidal and subtidal zones. During high spring tides, this seaweed strands on the shore and succumbs to drying, high levels of sunlight, and high temperatures. These […]

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Puget Sound Stakeholders See Value in HAB Forecasts

At a June 26 meeting, NCCOS-funded ECOHAB project investigators concluded that climate change could increase the window of opportunity for blooms of the toxic dinoflagellate, Alexandrium catenella to occur. In light of this information, state officials expressed strong interest in seasonal HAB forecasts, while industry and local managers requested daily to weekly forecasts. Although future climate change will […]

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Enhanced Monitoring Saved Puget Sound Net Pen Salmon Threatened by Extreme Harmful Algal Bloom

In June, the straits, bays and islands of Puget Sound experienced some of the most extensive harmful algal blooms (HABs) in recent memory, including at least five potential toxin producers. Blooms of Heterosigma akashiwo, which causes massive fish kills, were widespread and threatened the salmon net pen mariculture industry. Enhanced HAB monitoring in the area led […]

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