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Puget Sound Cyst Survey Begins

A project to model favorable habitat areas for the dinoflagellate  Alexandrium catenella is underway in Washington’s Puget Sound.  Sediment from nearly 100 sites will be sampled during two cruises in January and February and the cyst abundance mapped.  Alexandrium produces potent neurotoxins that accumulate in shellfish and cause severe illness or death in people who eat contaminated shellfish.

The project’s goal is to predict current blooms and evaluate how cyst distribution and germination will be altered by climate change. Partners such as NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, University of Washington and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are sampling the alga’s dormant resting cyst stages which overwinter in the sediments.

This cruise is a critical component of the Puget Sound Alexandrium Harmful Algal Blooms (PS-AHAB) project, funded by NCCOS’s Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) Program.

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