Charleston Harbor Deepening Awaits Approval from Congress

Charleston Harbor waiting authorization from Congress for deepening.

Understanding the Linkage between Harmful Algae Blooms and Bird Deaths

Understanding the Linkage between Harmful Algae Blooms and Bird Deaths

In 2007, hundreds of migratory birds were mysteriously found stranded or dead in Monterey Bay, California.  This was the beginning of a quest that brought together specialists who helped discover the link between algae blooms and bird strandings. A red tide caused by a type of marine plankton called Akashiwo sanguinea had been occurring during this massive bird mortality event in Monterey Bay, but researchers were finding it hard to link the two events and identify the actual culprit until tests were performed on an abundant substance found throughout the bay area--sea foam. Tests performed on the foam determined that the algae was in fact nontoxic, but the foam created by the churning of decaying organisms was impairing the water repellency of the birds’ feathers (similar to the effect detergent would have on them) and allowing the underlying skin to be exposed, thus leading to hypothermia.

Because of research following events such as the 2007 incident in Monterey Bay, many organizations and government agencies now understand the significance of monitoring our ocean currents and algae blooms in real time, which in turn will hopefully lead to better mitigation of future scenarios. You can read more about the Monterey Bay study at PLOS One, an online research journal.

Sources:

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/seafoam.html

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/news/weeklynews/mar09/algalfoam.html

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0004550

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