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New Red Tide Threatens California Abalone; Response Evaluated

Published on: 02/01/2012

A January 11, 2012 workshop was convened to help state fish and game officials respond to last September’s red tide off of Sonoma County, the likely culprit in a massive die-off of invertebrates, especially abalone. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science funded investigators determining the cause of the event, so this meeting brought together NCCOS and state experts to assess what additional research is needed to minimize future fisheries impacts.

The participants suspect the mortalities were caused by Gonyaulax, a toxic dinoflagellate that blooms but had never before caused mortalities in California . This species produces a seed-like cyst that accumulates on the ocean bottom which allows it to bloom again under favorable conditions.

They concluded that developing future management plans requires understanding the likelihood of future blooms and the mortality mechanism of Gonyaulax.

NOAA Fisheries says that this isn’t the only problem abalone face,two populations are now listed as ‘endangered’ under the Endangered Species Act and three others are identified as ‘species of concern.’

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