Home > Explore Data & Reports > Monitoring Oregon Coastal Harmful Algae: Observations and Implications of a Harmful Algal Bloom-Monitoring Project


McKibben, S.M., K.S. Watkins-Brandt, A.M. Wood, M. Hunter, Z. Forster, A. Hopkins, X. Du, B.-T. Eberhart, W.T. Peterson, and A.E. White. 2015. Monitoring Oregon Coastal Harmful Algae: Observations and Implications of a Harmful Algal Bloom-Monitoring Project. Harmful Algae, 50:32-44. doi:10.1016/j.hal.2015.10.004

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The accumulation of domoic acid (DA) and saxitoxins (STX), phycotoxins produced by some species of Pseudo-nitzschia and Alexandrium, respectively, in coastal food webs are a focus of research on the West Coast of the United States due to the deleterious effects they have on coastal ecosystems and economies. Results are presented from the 2007–2012 Monitoring Oregon Coastal Harmful Algae (MOCHA) project, the Oregon coast's first HAB monitoring and research program. Both historical toxin databases and more detailed case-study observations of individual HAB events are compiled to provide the first detailed overview of HAB occurrence in this region. These results are also presented in the context of informing future HAB monitoring in this and other upwelling regimes affected by STX and DA. A 2009–2010 warming event was associated with the greatest HAB activity during the MOCHA project, including anomalously high sea surface temperatures and shellfish harvesting closures due to STX and DA in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In regards to HAB monitoring, it is shown that (1) razor clams are a more sensitive indicator of DA than mussels; (2) water column concentrations of particulate domoic acid greater than 103 ng L?1 can be used as a threshold for early-warning of shellfish DA toxicity and (3) approximately bi-weekly, or shorter, monitoring of Alexandrium in the surf zone and/or offshore can provide advance notice of STX contamination of shellfish. Both of the latter two metrics gain added value when coupled with local wind stress, a proxy of downwelling/relaxation events that facilitate greater interaction between offshore blooms and shellfish.

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