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West Coast Toxic Algae Bloom Probably Largest Ever

Posted by feww on June 17, 2015

Dangerous levels of potent neurotoxin domoic acid found along the West Coast

Federal scientists set out from Oregon Monday to study the massive bloom, which could be the largest ever discovered off the US West Coast, said a report.

“The effects stretch from Central California to British Columbia, and possibly as far north as Alaska. Dangerous levels of the natural toxin domoic acid have shut down recreational and commercial shellfish harvests in Washington, Oregon and California this spring.”

“Extremely high” levels of neurotoxin domoic acid found in Monterey Bay

Extremely high concentrations of the potent toxin domoic acid were detected in Monterey Bay by monitors led by UC Santa Cruz in May, and more blooms were reported elsewhere along the U.S. west coast.

“It’s a pretty massive bloom. The domoic acid levels are extremely high right now in Monterey Bay, and the event is occurring as far north as Washington state. So it appears this will be one of the most toxic and spatially largest events we’ve had in at least a decade,” said Kudela, professor of ocean sciences and at UC Santa Cruz.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by tiny algae called Pseudo-nitzschia (a type of diatom). The toxin was first detected in early May, and within the month researchers had detected the highest concentrations of domoic acid ever observed in Monterey Bay, off the coast of California.

“We have confirmed domoic acid at very high levels in mussels and anchovy,” Kudela said. His lab also found very high levels of the toxin in samples from a dead pelican found on the beach in Moss Landing, and testing of sea lion samples is under way. “Domoic acid has clearly worked its way into the food web,” he said.

The acid has claimed several lives and sickened scores of others, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP)

Meantime, researchers have discovered two other types of toxins, said to be a rare combination, in shellfish in Puget Sound and along the Washington coast, said Vera Trainer, a senior scientist at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

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