Understanding the cause of toxic algae blooms

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.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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