It was October 31, 1987 - HalloweenDay in the U.S. It seemed to be an otherwise ordinary day, but people on the beaches near Beaufort, North Carolina,were experiencing out of the ordinaryrespiratory distress. A bloom of 'Florida red tide', the toxic algae Kareniabrevis, had unexpectedly appeared inNorth Carolina coastal waters for the first time on record. It stayed for almosthalf of a year.
This persistent and unforeseenharmful algal bloom (HAB) was economically disastrous for shellfisheries,seafood, and tourism, costing an estimated $25 million to North Carolina coastal communities (about $47 milliontoday). A need to better monitor, predict, and plan for events like this - integrating all available data from satellites,field monitoring, and ultimately models - was clear.