Last winter was the first time the Dungeness crab fishery in Oregon closed temporarily because of toxic algae in the ocean. And even just a week ago, another toxic bloom was happening off the coast.
Scientists are just beginning to understand what triggers these conditions. A study this month from Oregon State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a rare peak below the waves.
The toxin, demoic acid, is sometimes produced by an algae called Pseudo-nitzschia, or PN. PN does better than most algae when ocean temperatures are high and there isn’t much nutrients in the water.