Harmful Algal Blooms
Photo Credit: Dave Caron
Certain algae (i.e. Pseudo-nitzschia a and Alexandrium catenell) are capable of toxic or harmful algal blooms (HABs), releasing compounds (for example, domoic acid or saxitoxin), which can accumulate up the marine food chain, causing severe illness and death in marine mammals, birds, and even humans. Another species, Lingulodinium polyedrum, is probably the most common dinoflagellate in the region and causes the red water often seen near the beach; when its population crashes, it consumes large amounts of oxygen in the surrounding water. This can cause hypoxia in regions with low circulation (ports, marinas, lagoons, etc.), resulting in fish kills. Scientists still do not know what conditions trigger a toxic algal species to bloom and produce toxin, but understanding complex coastal oceanographic processes is certainly a key to unraveling this mystery. It is also important for sustainably managing human use and enjoyment of the coast. USC Sea Grant focuses its research funding and outreach programs on answering these questions.
Research & Outreach Projects
- High Resolution Remote Sensing of Coastal Discharge Plumes and Algal Blooms in the Southern California Bight (Jones, Fuhrman)
- Impacts of Algal Toxins on Species Composition of Coastal Plankton Communities (Schnetzer, Caron)
- Harmful Algal Blooms in King Harbor, Redondo Beach (Caron, Schnetzer)
- Web-Based GIS Model for Algal Toxins in Coastal Waters Near L.A. Harbor (Caron)
- Community HAB Watch volunteer monitoring
- Urban Mariner. "Keeping an Eye on the Ocean." June 2010, Volume 2, Number 2
- CINAPS (Center for Integrated Networked Aquatic Platforms)
- SCCOOS (Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System)
Funding OpportunitiesClick here to learn about funding opportunities through USC Sea Grant.
For More Informationseagrant@usc.edu
National Focus AreaHealthy Coastal Ecosystems