By Graelyn Brashear, Bay Nature
The delay in opening California’s crab fisheries because of a toxin called domoic acid has made headlines lately. But for marine biologists, alarm over the summertime growth of Pseudo-nitzschia, the single-celled algae producing the toxin, started long ago.
Seasonal explosions of ocean algae have been observed throughout human history. Most of the time they go unnoticed, said William Cochlan, a marine ecologist at San Francisco State’s Romberg Tiburon Center. But some algae can produce toxic byproducts, and if those species manage to outcompete others, they may form massive harmful blooms that can poison the food chain.
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