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Images: Researchers Successfully Forecast 2008 Red Tide

Stained with fluorescent primulin dye and viewed under a microscope, cysts of the algae Alexandrium fundyense and Alexandrium tamarense stand out in yellow and bright green from organic matter and sediments collected from the Gulf of Maine. Alexandrium fundyense can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans who consume shellfish that have eaten harmful algae. (Photo by Kerry Norton, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI biologist Don Anderson (left) and oceanographer Dennis McGillicuddy review the results of a computer simulation of the 2008 harmful algae season in New England waters. The model predicted a large regional outbreak of harmful algae that materialized later in the spring. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

These panels show the results of four different runs of a computer simulation of the cell concentrations of Alexandrium fundyense under four different weather scenarios. All four forecasting runs were initiated from maps of the actual cyst distribution, obtained by a survey in late 2007; the differences in predicted bloom patterns are determined by the weather and ocean conditions observed in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Those years provide a range of conditions from major blooms to intermediate levels to very weak blooms. Note that in all cases, the Alexandrium cells are abundant within the region, but not necessarily close to the shoreline.
(Graphic by Dennis McGillicuddy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Ruoying He, North Carolina State University)