- News Home
12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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Wanted, Dead or Alive: Killer Algae
25 April 2000 3:00 pm
What may look from the air like a blazing oil slick can turn out to be a kilometers-long carpet of marine algae, their luminous bodies setting the ocean aglow. These outbursts of algal exuberance sometimes have a dark side: Algal toxins have been blamed for everything from fish kills in North Carolina to a manatee massacre in Florida to the 1987 deaths of four Canadians who consumed tainted mussels.
Anyone intrigued by toxic algal blooms--more commonly called red tides, although they're neither tide-driven nor always red--can turn to the eclectic Harmful Algae Page, started 4 years ago by marine ecologist Donald Anderson of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. To get a feel for what scientists are up against, start with the photos, a gallery of rogues that poison their enemies--such as the dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense--or stab them to death--including a Chaetoceros species that plunges its serrated spines into the gills of fish.
A section on human illnesses describes the five main kinds of algal seafood poisoning, which causes symptoms such as diarrhea and numbness. Illuminating the scope of the problem, a set of maps shows past algal blooms in U.S. coastal waters, and a short essay delves into why the number of blooms seems to be rising--better surveillance and nutrient-laden pollution are suspected. Researchers can search a directory of algal specialists, browse documents that spell out state, federal, and international research and control efforts, and access references and outside links.