Everything you need to know about toxic algae blooms

Toxic algae blooms can be deadly, and they're becoming more common thanks to climate change. Here's how to protect yourself and your pets.

14.8.2019

Toxic algae blooms can be deadly, and they're becoming more common thanks to climate change. Here's how to protect yourself and your pets.

Toxic algae blooms can be deadly, and they're becoming more common thanks to climate change. Here's how to protect yourself and your pets.

Algae blooms can range from completely innocuous to incredibly toxic, said

The type of toxin released depends on the species causing the bloom. Some of the most common ones affect the liver or the nervous system, said

and a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Not quite. Red tides are certainly an example of an algae bloom, but although the water may be red, the algae might not be producing toxins. (

Scientists have moved away from using the term “red tide” because it’s not quite descriptive enough. Blooms can produce a variety of colors; they can also be dangerous even when the water isn’t discolored at all, Anderson said.

“There are a lot of nuances in why blooms occur, when blooms occur, which species bloom and whether they produce toxin,” Caron said. Scientists are trying to understand these factors “so that we can have better predictive ability of when and where blooms will occur,” he said.

“We’re seeing that these problem organisms are changing the ranges in which they occur because of climate,” he said.

In the ocean, patches of warm water are prime real estate for algae blooms.

The most common way is through what Anderson calls “recreational exposure.”

. It’s not harmful for them, but it’s toxic to people. High doses can be lethal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lower doses can damage the brain and cause memory loss.

“A lot of these animals just go down to the shore and drink. They’re just used to doing that,” he said. “Sometimes some of these algae dry on the shore of the water and get kind of crispy or crunchy, and dogs will eat that. They tend to like the taste of it.”

Be observant. Check for signs indicating that the area is closed to the public. Even if no signs are posted, take a look at the water and make sure the color is normal.

(Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board)

Read more: Los Angeles Times
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