Toxic algae bloom

Huge ocean growth threatens sea life and human health

The blob … fish.

The blob … fish.

There is a runaway bloom of toxic algae growing off the West Coast, and it's raising health concerns for both sea life and humans.

According to Reuters, the giant bloom—dubbed “the blob”—stretches from the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara all the way to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and is believed to be the result of unusually warm ocean waters.

The bloom is made up of pseudo-nitzschia algae and is producing large amounts of domoic acid that accumulates in smaller creatures (shellfish, sardines, etc.) and then becomes a neurotoxin to the larger marine animals (e.g., birds, sea lions) that feed on them. Seafood contaminated with domoic acid can lead to amnesic shellfish poisoning in humans, a potentially fatal health threat.