Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Though such algal blooms occur with some regularity, the size and density of the one this year has been considered especially alarming. It is believed linked to a band of unusually warm water stretching from Alaska to Mexico that has impacted coastal habitats in myriad ways.
With just a week to go before sport anglers can begin setting traps for Dungeness crab, a persistent bloom of toxic red algae off the Pacific Coast is threatening to disrupt the start of the catch and one of California’s most valuable fisheries.
State officials are awaiting test results they hope will come back by midweek before deciding if they will delay the Nov. 7 recreational start, as well as commercial seasons set to begin a week later, Fish and Wildlife personnel said.
Concern about a powerful neurotoxin called domoic acid produced by certain marine algae is driving the deliberations in California and in other regions, including Washington state, where much of the Dungeness crab fishery was closed through the summer because of high levels of domoic acid found in crustaceans there.
Read more at: California’s Dungeness crab season start in doubt due | The Press Democrat
Peter Fimrite, SFGATE.COM
Scientists have identified a microscopic sea creature with a Jekyll and Hyde personality as the culprit in the death of tens of thousands of abalone three years ago along the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts, but they don’t know how to stop the elusive critter from killing again.
The toxic "red tide" in 2011 turned the pristine coastal waters into a graveyard, with the rotting carcasses of red abalone, sea urchins, starfish and other mollusks strewn along the shoreline from Bodega Bay and Fort Ross to Anchor Bay in southern Mendocino County.
A team of scientists and geneticists said this week that they used a sophisticated, new forensic genome testing technique to pin the carnage on a mysterious poison-producing micro-organism known as Gonyaulax spinifera, a species of phytoplankton virtually unheard of in this part of the world.
via Abalone massacre pinned on microscopic coastal killer – SFGate.
Sam Scott, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A recent explosion of plankton off the Sonoma Coast has turned lethal for abalone and other shellfish.
White meat from the prized sea snails has been washing up on area beaches for more than a week, sending wafts of rotting flesh over bluffs, and dismaying those who consider themselves stewards of the ocean.
“It’s like going up to an old growth forest and then coming back and it’s been clear cut,” said Matt Mattison, an abalone diver from Monte Rio, who was stunned by the extent of the die-off near Fort Ross on Monday. “In 28 years of diving up here, I have never seen anything like this.”
State scientists say the destruction appears to be the result of a plankton bloom that began toward the end of August and is now dissipating.
via Abalone die-off plagues the coast | The Press Democrat.