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Bottom-dwelling Animals Accumulate Harmful Algal Toxins: Study

Scientists aren’t clear on the specifics of how harmful algal toxins get into top predators, but a recent study showed that when Florida red tides bloom, a wide range of bottom-dwelling creatures become highly toxic within several days. Since these benthic animals are a food source for many at the top of the food chain, this represents a newly discovered pathway for toxins to transfer.

Previous studies only focused on the accumulation of this red tide toxin—called brevetoxin—in filter feeding shellfish and fish because of the direct threat to humans and protected species.

While the amount of toxin varied from creature to creature, scientists discovered it in a wide variety of bottom dwellers.

This project is funded by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

Read the research paper abstract in the journal Harmful Algae.

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