Killer Foam!

(image from Harmful Algal Bloom Programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO)

How’s this for a scary story? A mysterious killer foam ravages the coasts of Oregon and Washington, killing thousands of seabirds. Actually, the foam is not so mysterious; it is  a single-cell phytoplankton, or algae. Toxic algae blooms- when the algae reproduces like made and as a by-product produces a detergent-like substance that strips water birds of their waterproofing oils- have occurred in many parts of the world, but not, until last week, in the Pacific Northwest.   So the big question is why did it occur? Was it a freak event or something that will occur again? Are the waters off the Pacific Northwest warming and what will that mean for the future? Anyone who likes to eat shellfish will be effected as the shellfish eat the algae and the toxins are concentrated in them.

Some scary stories are fun because we can relish the scare without the consequences. Not this one.

Further information:

Oregonian article  Killer Foam:was it a freak event or a warning?

Oregonlive article



NOAA’s National Ocean Service: Harmful Algal Blooms


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