An ongoing NCCOS-funded investigation by Dr. Christopher Gobler at Stony Brook University has genetically identified the algal species Aureoumbra lagunensis as the culprit causing a brown tide bloom in east central Florida coastal lagoons. This confirms a significant expansion of brown tide harmful algal bloom (HAB) events in the United States. PreviousAureoumbrablooms had only been documented in Texas. NCCOS support enabled brown tide expert Dr. Gobler to join a team of FloridaFish and Wildlife Research Instituteand local researchers led by St. Johns River Water Management Districtwho are studying the bloom.
The water management district first reported the unusual bloom in July and officials have since documented many ecosystem impacts including a significant loss of sea grass acreage, hypoxia, fish kills, and deaths of aquacultured hard clams.Dr. Gobler will determine potential toxicity of this brown tide bloom to shellfish and other grazers and examine possible causes to explain why brown tide has appeared in the lagoons, helping NCCOS document this unique HAB event and Florida officials prepare for future re-occurrences.