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Toxic Pseudo-nitzschia Bloom Reported in Alaska’s Kachemak Bay

Published on: 06/05/2015
Primary Contact(s): steve.morton@noaa.gov

Volunteers with the NOAA’s Phytoplankton Monitoring Network reported a bloom of the diatom, Pseudo-nitzschia occurring within NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System at Kachemak Bay, AK. NOAA’s Analytical Response Team identified the bloom as Pseudo-nitzchia australis using scanning electron microscopy and confirmed the bloom produced the neurotoxin domoic acid, after which, state managers of the Alaska Department Environmental Control were notified.

At present, the West Coast of the United States is experiencing a number of Pseudo-nitzschia blooms and subsequent shellfish closures ranging from California toWashington. These results represent justthe second occurrence of finding domoic acid in samples collected at the Katchemak Bay Research Reserve (KBRR). While material from KBRR contained both lower presence and toxin loads than samples analyzed in the more southern states with shellfish closures, it may represent a northern extent of this large, West Coast domoic acid event.

Groups have actively sampled 13 sites at KBRR since 2011. The volunteer groups currently monitor on a weekly basis to determine if this Pseudo-nitzschia bloom is increasing in cell number and toxicity. Additional samples will be shipped for analysis if warranted.

For more information, contact Steve.Morton@noaa.gov or Catie.bursch@alaska.gov

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