Home > Explore Data & Reports > Initiation and Development of a Toxic and Persistent Pseudo-nitzschia Bloom off the Oregon Coast in Spring/Summer 2015


Du, X., W. Peterson, J. Fisher, M. Hunter, and J. Peterson. 2016. Initiation and Development of a Toxic and Persistent Pseudo-nitzschia Bloom off the Oregon Coast in Spring/Summer 2015. PLoS ONE, 11(10):e0163977. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163977

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In spring/summer 2015, a toxic bloom by the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia (PN) occurred along the west coast of the United States which led to closures of the harvest of razor clams and Dungeness crabs. Twice monthly observations of temperature, salinity, nutrients, chlorophyll and phytoplankton species composition allowed us to track oceanographic conditions preceding and during the development of the bloom. PN cells were first detected during late winter 2015. A PN bloom was initiated following the onset of coastal upwelling in mid-April; subsequent peaks in May and June were sustained by episodic upwelling events and reached magnitudes of 105 cells/L and 106 cells/L, 40% and 90% of the total diatom abundance, respectively. The bloom temporarily crashed in July due to a lack of upwelling, but PN cells increased again in August due to a resumption of upwelling, albeit with lower magnitude. Macronutrient conditions prior to this bloom likely played a critical role in triggering the bloom and its toxicity (particularly silicic acid limitation stress). Nutrient stress preceding the toxic bloom was related to two oceanographic events: an anomalously warm and thick water mass that occupied the northern North Pacific from September 2014 through 2015 leading to a highly-stratified water column, and the drawdown of nitrate and silicic acid during an unusually intense winter phytoplankton bloom in February and early March 2015.

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