From the toxic scum on ponds and lakes to the nuisance blooms that can shut down vital desalination plants providing water to millions, the Cape Cod region — and the world, is increasingly tuned into the problems presented by Harmful Algal Blooms.
The process, known as clay flocculation, involves spraying a mixture of clay particles and seawater onto the red tide algae.
Outside Mote Marine Laboratory, Dr. Lewis deployed a technique called clay flocculation. It’s a project led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Dr. Don Anderson.
Accounts of harmful algal growths have increased over time. So has monitoring, however, making it difficult to tell whether the rise in observations is simply because there is greater awareness of their occurence or if it truly represents a growing ocean threat.
“We have many parts of the country with huge coastlines like Maine and California and we’re finding it really difficult to monitor for multiple toxins threatening people and ecosystems,” said Don Anderson, a senior scientist at WHOI and a principal investigator at the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health.
Researchers at WHOI were recently named in a list of 17 new research projects funded by the NOAA to improve the nation’s collective response to the growing problem of harmful algal blooms.
As the Earth’s climate changes, blooms have become more frequent and severe, and the hunt for solutions has intensified, said algae scholar Don Anderson, senior scientist at WHOI in Massachusetts, where he’s been studying those solutions for decades.
Cape Cod’s shellfish farmers face many challenges, and one of the biggest is dealing with harmful algal blooms, which can damage shellfish and be poisonous for humans to ingest. But a new project at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is looking at a way to better manage this with the help of a tiny camera.
“Cyanobacteria grow quite well—better than almost everything else in those freshwater systems—the hotter it gets,” said Don Anderson, a senior scientist at WHOI.
Federal and university scientists are trying to better understand why some birds and marine mammals have been unable to find enough food, and whether toxic algae blooms — increasing as the water warms — could have contributed or caused some of the die-offs.
The type of toxin released depends on the species causing the bloom. Some of the most common ones affect the liver or the nervous system, said Donald Anderson, director of the U.S. National Office for Harmful Algal Blooms and a senior scientist at WHOI.
mentions Judy McDowell and WHOI
reprint of Associated Press article
also ran in: Albuquerue Journal, WABI Channel 5 and Seacoastonline.com