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Algae blooms' sudden spread stumps scientists

Marine scientists are trying to find out why previously unknown blooms of toxic algae are suddenly proliferating along the California coast, killing wildlife and increasing the risk of human sickness. The mysterious blooms have recently been bigger and have occurred more frequently than ever before, an alarming trend that a team of scientists led by UC Santa Cruz is attempting to figure out. "It is a huge problem for wildlife," said Raphael Kudela, a professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz and the lead scientist for the study, which began last week. "We've seen a lot more of what we consider unusual events. It's not always the same organism, but new things keep cropping up. The million-dollar question is: What exactly is the change in the environment that these things are linked to?" The danger was disturbingly apparent starting in August when a deadly red tide killed tens of thousands of abalone, sea urchins and other mollusks along the coast in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Scientists will deploy an array of sophisticated ocean-monitoring technology, including robotic gliders, a network of underwater sensors and satellite observations, during the five-year, $4.3 million study. The project shoved off using an $800,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Research focus The researchers will look at the rare species found in the red tide, known as Gonyaulax spinifera, which creates a biotoxin that kills shellfish. But the primary focus will be on a separate single-celled diatom known as Pseudo-nitzschia. This algae, which was not part of the recent red tide, produces domoic acid, which Kudela said has rapidly become the single biggest biological threat along the California coast. Pseudo-nitzschia was first identified in the Monterey area in 1991 and in Southern California in 2003. It is toxic to both humans and marine mammals, and although it is normally associated with springtime conditions, Kudela said it has now begun to appear at other times of the year.

The blooms quickly cover large areas and the toxins accumulate in shellfish, mussels, anchovies, sardines and other filter feeders. The domoic acid is poisonous to humans and marine mammals, particularly sea otters, that eat affected shellfish. People can contract amnesic shellfish poisoning, which causes nausea, vomiting, dizziness and, in severe cases, disorientation, seizures, coma and even death. It is a big problem for oyster farming and offshore aquaculture, Kudela said, and a primary reason for yearly bans on shellfish harvesting. "It's quite common. We have toxin in the water pretty much every year, and every couple of years we have a big event, where a lot of birds are dying and sea lions are found dead on the beach," Kudela said. "There is a good monitoring program in California, and if that program didn't exist, then we would probably have more people getting sick." Monitoring blooms The plan is to compare conditions in Monterey Bay and along the San Pedro Shelf in Southern California, both hot spots for toxic blooms. Deep ocean upwellings, river outflows, and agricultural and urban runoff will be looked at during the study. The work is a collaboration of UCLA, the University of Southern California, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, and NOAA's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research. Scientists will also try to determine whether climate change is having an effect on the size, frequency and location of deadly algae blooms. "We can't say for sure that it is tied to something like climate change," Kudela said, "but it does seem to be spreading globally, so something is changing, and we are trying to find out what that is." Algal blooms are already known to be relatively common in the coastal waters of Oregon, Washington state and Canada. Recently, though, unusual toxic algal blooms have also been detected in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, in Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Maine, according to researchers.

Future outbreaks may be unstoppable, Kudela and others admit, but they hope the study will eventually help them develop a computer model that will predict blooms before they have a chance to cause havoc in the marine environment. This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle Algae control and pond weed control can be accomplished by reducing plant nutrients in a body of water. These plant nutrients are typically fertilizers, including phosphorous, nitrogen, and sometimes sulfur. Other various micronutrients contributing to algal blooms include manganese, iron, zinc, magnesium, cobalt, molybdenum, etc These fertilizers make algae control and pond weed control a challengealgae removal via algaecides often results in weed growth and weed control via herbicides can contribute to later heavy algal blooms. Any nutrients that find their way into a body of water will either be used by pond weeds or into algae. Algae shades the water so weeds do not growif weed growth becomes a problem and grow in excess, all nutrients are depleted and pond algae cannot grow. Its important to keep in mind that lake and pond ecosystems do shift from pond weeds to algae growth, whichever is first established in the beginning of a season. If youre looking for a method of algae control or for pond weeds, you may have considered algaecides. Many references indicate that the excessive copper and alum from algaecides can turn a pond or lake into a toxic body of water and kill fish and other aquatic animals, interfering with reproduction as well. These copper compounds also kill beneficial lake bacteria that feed on organic bottom sediment. Alum in algaecides can also leave an aluminum hydroxide flocculent on a lake bottom that could potentially interfere with the reproduction of fish and beneficial bacteria and insects that feed on pond muck (bottom organic sediment). Copper compounds can destroy the quality of your water. As dead algae decompose, they release nitrogen and phosphorous, consuming oxygen. This lack of oxygen causes fish and other aquatic animals to sufferalgaecides and pond weed chemicals do nothing to actively improve the health and growth of pond and lake ecosystems, and do nothing to reduce the amounts of muck and sediment on the bottom. These copper compounds also create toxic sediment at the bottom, as well as copper carbonate which prevents natural bacterial decomposition of sediment and alters fish reproduction. If you are trying to control algae or pond weeds by algaecides, you may succeed in removing all the algae from a lake but plant nutrients will still be in the waterthe cause of your algal bloom. Eventually algae will return,

unless pond weeds take in the nutrients before algae can grow. Then you will have a lake full of weeds. Lochness Pond and Lake Dye is available in blue and black colorsthese dyes are effective in algae control and pond weed control and can safely retard the suns ability to penetrate lakes and ponds, reducing photosynthesis. This dye is not recommended for fast flowing bodies of water but can serve as an effective method for pond weed control in lagoons, sewage runoff, or shallow/muddy lakes and ponds. In order to develop a long-term water quality plan for pond weed control, nutrient levels must be reduced. Oxygen is a key component in algae controlits essential to the health of all aquatic organisms. Without oxygen at the bottom of a lake or pond, harmful anaerobic bacteria produce a toxic environment that is detrimental to animals, plants, and other organisms.

Scientific Synthesis Paper (Algal Bloom)

Submitted by:Mechaela Cesar Submitted to:Mr.Chito R. Napitan