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Puget Sound Stakeholders See Value in HAB Forecasts

Published on: 07/29/2014
Research Area(s): Coastal Change
Primary Contact(s): quay.dortch@noaa.gov

At a June 26 meeting, NCCOS-funded ECOHAB project investigators concluded that climate change could increase the window of opportunity for blooms of the toxic dinoflagellate,Alexandrium catenella to occur. In light of this information, state officials expressed strong interest in seasonal HAB forecasts, while industry and local managers requested daily to weekly forecasts.

NOS-sponsored scientists map HAB cyst hotspots in picturesque Puget Sound. (credit: Vera Trainer, NOAA)

NOS-sponsored scientists map HAB cyst hotspots in picturesque Puget Sound. (credit: Vera Trainer, NOAA)

Although future climate change will affect many environmental variables, from runoff to coastal upwelling, the increase in water temperature is the major factor that may lead to a longer HAB season. Stakeholders, including state, county, and tribal representatives, shellfish growers and harvesters, and volunteer HAB monitors, expressed satisfaction with information provided by four annual cyst maps (3 from this project) showing local HAB hot spots and overall declining cyst abundances since 2005.

A. catenellaproduces a suite of toxins that accumulate in shellfish. When humans consume the toxic shellfish, the can become seriously ill or die from Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). To reduce PSP occurrence, state (includingWashington), county, and tribal agencies conduct rigorous monitoring of shellfish toxicity and ban harvesting when toxicity approaches a threshold. They are aided by volunteer HAB cell monitoring groups such as SoundToxins, which provide early warning of HAB events.

For more information, contact Quay.Dortch@noaa.gov.

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