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Detecting and monitoring harmful algal blooms



The Juan de Fuca eddy, shown as cooler (blue) water in the outlined box, is thought to be a potential initiation site of harmful algal blooms along the outer Washington coast.

Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim, Wash., are working with the Olympic Region Harmful Algal Bloom (ORHAB) project to investigate the mechanisms driving harmful algal blooms. Harmful algal blooms (HABs), a common occurrence on the Washington coast, have led to closures of commercial, tribal and recreational shellfish harvest, which have resulted in millions of dollars in losses to the state's razor clam fishery in recent years. Currently not enough is known about how HABs spread to predict the location and frequency of shellfish contamination along the coast.

PNNL scientists are using satellite imagery of sea surface temperatures and chlorophyll concentrations, coupled with monitoring data to better understand where and when blooms occur. The long-term goal is to develop a forecast tool that can advise coastal resource managers and tribes of HAB events.

ORHAB is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and led by the National Marine Fisheries Science Center.

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