Al Jazeera, Aug 1, 2015: The toxic algae blooms in the Pacific Ocean stretching from southern California to Alaska — already the largest ever recorded — appear to have reached as far as the Aleutian Islands, scientists say. “The anecdotal evidence suggests we’re having a major event,” said Bruce Wright, a scientist with the Aleutian Pribilof Island Association… “All the populations (of marine mammals) are way down in the Aleutians.”… the blooms are responsible for unprecedented closures of fisheries and unusual deaths of marine life up and down the Pacific coast… The discovery of nearly a dozen dead whales in the Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak also raised suspicion… Other die-offs of species have been reported along the Aleutian chain, stretching nearly 1,500 miles across the north Pacific.
CBS/AP, Aug 5, 2015: Toxic algae bloom in Pacific even larger than thought… ocean researchers say this one is much larger and persisting much longer, with higher levels of neurotoxins bringing severe consequences for the… marine ecosystems… [Vera Trainer, with Univ. of Washington and NOAA’s Harmful Algal Blooms Program] said this bloom is the worst she’s seen in 20 years of studying them… “It’s been incredibly thick, almost all the same organism. Looks like a layer of hay,” said Raphael Kudela, a professor of ocean sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz. Kudela told CBS… “It’s definitely the largest bloom of this particular algae seen on the West Coast, possibly anywhere, ever.”… “It’s really working its way into the food web and we’re definitely seeing the impacts of that,” Kudela said, noting that sea lions are getting sick and pelicans are being exposed… The most recent samples showed the highest-ever recorded concentrations of domoic acid in the internal organs of Dungeness crab, Ayres said. “This is really unprecedented territory for us,” said [Dan Ayres, Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife].
USA Today, Aug 7, 2015: A massive toxic algal bloom thriving in the warm water along the West Coast may be the largest ever recorded, according to [NOAA] scientists. The bloom stretches 40 miles wide and in some places is 650 feet deep. It runs from California to Alaska, and has shuttered lucrative fisheries in several coastal states. “It’s unprecedented,” [said Trainer].
Grist, Aug 7, 2015: A huge, toxic algae bloom is basically eating the West Coast alive… and more toxic than anyone suspected… scientists have never known one to be this bad before.
Capital Public Radio, Aug 7, 2015: In nearly 25 years of research, Trainer says she’s never seen an event like this…
Reuters, Aug 6, 2015: Massive toxic algae bloom reaches from California to Alaska… [it] stretches thousands of miles from the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and has surprised researchers by its size and composition. “It’s just lurking there,” Vera Trainer, research oceanographer with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Washington state, told Reuters on Thursday. “It’s the longest lasting, highest toxicity and densest bloom that we’ve ever seen.”… Researchers are investigating whether the bloom is linked to several suspicious marine mammal deaths…
Discover Magazine, Aug 6, 2015: Record Algae Bloom Laced With Toxins is Flourishing in “The Blob” — and Spreading in the North Pacific… a record-breaking bloom of algae stretching from Southern California all the way north to Alaska… Toxins from the algae are suspected to have contributed to the deaths of at least nine Fin whales near Kodiak Island, Alaska, in June, although a definitive cause has not yet been determined, NOAA says. There have also been reports of dead and dying whales, gulls, and forage fish in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands…
Regarding the suggestion made in three of the articles above that the 18 whale deaths in Alaska could be linked to harmful algae blooms, researchers from the Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks reported last month: “Biotoxins caused by warm water–induced harmful algal blooms are a possibility, although tissue from the sampled fin whale tested for domoic acid came back negative… Scientists have followed up on other possible causes… even radionuclides from the Fukushima reactor…. a muscle tissue sample from a dead fin whale [was submitted] for Cesium 137 analysis, with results pending.”
Published: August 9th, 2015 at 9:48 pm ET