Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Warming oceans and toxic shellfish

From NPR:
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found a link between warming ocean conditions and a dangerous neurotoxin that builds up in sea life: domoic acid.
Seafood lovers got a glimpse of that threat in 2015, when record high ocean temperatures and lingering toxic algae blooms raised the domoic acid in shellfish to unsafe levels, shutting down the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery from Alaska to Southern California for several months. Though less dramatic, the problem emerged again this season, when harvesting was again delayed for portions of the coasts.
Domoic acid is a toxin produced by Pseudo-nitzschia, a micro algae which can accumulate in species like Dungeness crab, clams, mussels and anchovy. It can be harmful to both humans and wildlife, including sea lions and birds....
Although we're starting to hear about domoic acid more often, it's been on the radar of public health officials since a Canadian outbreak in 1987 killed three and sickened over 100. In mild cases, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Severe cases can cause trouble breathing, memory loss, and even coma or death.
And, of course, the AGW link:
And a future with more frequent domoic acid events seems likely, says says Bill Peterson, a NOAA senior scientist and co-author of the study. "We're having more and more of these warm ocean events and we're going to have more domoic acid blooms each year. It might become a chronic problem," he says.

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