Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Discovery Lecture Series
presented by AltaSea and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Friday, April 3, 2015
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Harmful Algal Blooms Along the California Coast: Their Ecosystem Impacts and Our Present Understanding
By Dr. David Caron, University of Southern California

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have expanded globally in recent decades, and in many locations have increased in both frequency and intensity. Unfortunately, the coastline of California has not escaped this trend. Economic and environmental impacts of these events have escalated, posing threats to human and marine animal health, coastal water quality, fisheries and recreation.

Within Southern Californian waters, toxic events caused by microalgae that produce the neurotoxin domoic acid have been documented with regularity since 2003. The cause of this upswing in toxic events has been blamed on a multitude of factors ranging from normal environmental variability, to progressive anthropogenic nutrient enrichment along the coast, to long-term shifts in ecosystem structure due to global climate change.

While the specific causes of individual events remain elusive, scientists are beginning to understand some of the basic drivers and controls of toxic algal blooms in our region. The record of these events in SoCal over the last decade will be reviewed, along with our present understanding of what stimulates these incidents. Much of this understanding has been made possible through the establishment of collaborations between academic researchers, environmental managers and water quality regulators, with the goal of improving the predictability of toxic events, and developing strategies that protect the public and marine resources.

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