Tag Archives: don anderson

New Sensor Array to Monitor Impacts of Changing Gulf of Maine Conditions on New England Red Tide

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are kicking off an innovative NOAA-funded pilot program using robotic instruments and computer modeling analysis to shed light on changing ocean conditions in the Gulf of Maine as they relate to the harmful algal bloom (HAB) phenomenon commonly known as the New England red tide.

The red tide is caused by the germination of dormant cysts of alga called Alexandrium fundyense, which produces a toxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). These cysts are found in bottom sediments and near-bottom waters, accumulating in “seedbeds” that serve as the source of swimming, rapidly dividing cells that form the blooms each spring. (more…)

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New Robotic Instruments to Provide Real-Time Data on Gulf of Maine Red Tide

Deployment could lead transformation of toxic HAB monitoring

A new robotic sensor deployed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Gulf of Maine coastal waters may transform the way red tides or harmful algal blooms (HABs) are monitored and managed in New England. The instrument was launched at the end of last month, and a second such system will be deployed later this spring.

The results will add critical data to weekly real-time forecasts of New England red tide this year distributed to more than 150 coastal resource and fisheries managers in six states as well as federal agencies such as NOAA, the FDA and the EPA. Researchers also plan to add data from the sensor to regular updates  provided on the “Current Status” page of the Northeast PSP website. (more…)

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Research Enables Fishermen to Harvest Lucrative Shellfish on Georges Bank

Combined research efforts by scientists involved in the Gulf of Maine Toxicity (GOMTOX) project, funded by NOAA’s Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) program, and administered by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), have led to enhanced understanding of toxic algal blooms on Georges Bank.   This new information, coupled with an at-sea and dockside testing protocol developed through collaboration between GOMTOX and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators, has allowed fishermen to harvest ocean quahogs and surf clams in these offshore waters for the first time in more than two decades.

The shellfish industry estimates the Georges Bank fishery can produce up to 1 million bushels of surf clams and ocean quahogs a year, valued $10 – 15 million annually. “There is a billion dollars’ worth of shellfish product on Georges Bank that is property of the United States but that can’t be harvested because of the threat of toxicity, and 99.9% of the time, it is good wholesome product,” says Dave Wallace of North Atlantic Clam Association and a GOMTOX participant.  “In an unusual and unique partnership, we worked with GOMTOX scientists, the FDA, and the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware and now that huge resource can go into commerce, which helps the entire country.” (more…)

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Researchers Issue Forecast for ‘Moderate’ New England Red Tide in 2013

New England is expected to experience a “moderate” red tide this spring and summer, report NOAA-funded scientists studying the toxic algae that cause blooms in the Gulf of Maine. The “red tide” is caused by an alga Alexandrium fundyense, which produces a toxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).  Red tide typically occurs annually along some portions of the Gulf of Maine coast.  This year’s outlook is similar to the 2012 red tide which was also classified as “moderate.”

As with the past five forecasts for this region, the 2013 outlook is based on the quantities of the A. fundyense in its cyst (dormant) state detected in Gulf of Maine sediments last fall. These data are combined with a computer model to produce a range of bloom scenarios based on previous years’ conditions. This year, the team also used a forecast of toxicity impact developed from 34 years of historical data as part of the 2013 outlook.  The 2013 bloom is expected to fall somewhere in the middle in terms of toxicity impact, justifying a “moderate” forecast done by the established method.  (more…)

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Researchers Report Potential for a “Moderate” New England “Red Tide” in 2012

New England is expected to experience a “moderate” regional “red tide” this spring and summer, report NOAA-funded scientists working in the Gulf of Maine to study the toxic algae that causes the bloom. The algae in the water pose no direct threat to human beings, however the toxins they produce can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams— which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans who consume them.

Under a newly developed rating system, a moderate bloom could cause the closure of shellfish beds along an estimated 126 – 250 miles of coastline. (more…)

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Researchers Report Potential for a Moderate New England ‘Red Tide’ in 2011

*Bloom could be suppressed by changes in ocean conditions in the Gulf of Maine*

Scientists from the NOAA-funded Gulf of Maine Toxicity (GOMTOX) project issued an outlook for a moderate regional bloom of a toxic alga that can cause ‘red tides’ in the spring and summer of this year, potentially threatening the New England shellfish industry. However, there are signs this year’s bloom could be suppressed by recent changes in ocean conditions in the Gulf of Maine.

An abundant seed population in bottom sediments has set the stage for a moderate bloom of the toxic alga Alexandrium fundyense.  This organism swims in the water, and divides again and again to form a “bloom” or red tide, but it also produces dormant cells or cysts that fall to the ocean bottom at the end of these blooms where they remain until they germinate the next year to restart the process. (more…)

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First Harmful Algal Bloom Species Genome Sequenced

*Brown Tide Culprit Uniquely Suited to Thrive in Environmentally Impacted Estuaries*

The microscopic phytoplankton Aureococcus anophagefferens, which causes devastating brown tides, may be tiny but it’s a fierce competitor.

In the first genome sequencing of a harmful algal bloom species, researchers found that Aureococcus’ unique gene complement allows it to outcompete other marine phytoplankton and thrive in human-modified ecosystems, which could help explain the global increases in harmful algal blooms (HABs). (more…)

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