facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Chesapeake Bay 'red tides' a concern

July 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM   |   Comments

http://cdnph.upi.com/sv/em/i/UPI-80541343683003/2012/1/13436831053789/Chesapeake-Bay-red-tides-a-concern.jpg
WILLIAMSBURG, Va., July 30 (UPI) -- The algal "red tides" discoloring Chesapeake Bay in the last few weeks have occurred earlier and across a wider area than in years past, researchers said.

Last winter's warmth and this summer's heat have likely brought on the early red tides, dense blooms of tiny marine plants called algae that contain reddish pigment and which happen in the lower bay every summer, researchers at the College of William and Mary reported.

A bloom in significant numbers can generate toxic byproducts harmful to both marine organisms and human health, they said.

However, there is currently no evidence of harm from the recent blooms, scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at William and Mary said.

The bay blooms are caused by Cochlodinium polykrikoides, a single-celled marine dinoflagellate.

"Blooms of this and closely related species may harm oyster larvae and other marine life, and are associated with fish kills and economic loss in Japan and Korea, but we've had no reports of any of these effects in local waters this year," researcher Kim Reece said.

Algae respond to the same conditions that encourage plant growth on land, researchers said, so excess nutrients from farms and yards, sewage treatment plants, and the burning of fossil fuels are one of the biggest challenges facing the Bay.

"There are three main ingredients for an algal bloom," Reece said. "Warm waters that favor rapid growth of algal cells, abundant nutrients to fertilize that growth, and wind and tidal-driven currents to confine the cells into a dense aggregation.

"Our recent heat and rains provide ideal conditions for bloom formation, so we'll continue to monitor whether the ongoing blooms become a cause for any concern."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth
2
Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space
3
Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time
4
Astronomers discover worst-smelling comet in space Astronomers discover worst-smelling comet in space
5
Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback