Predicting when toxic algae will reach Washington and Oregon coasts

Measuring HABs along the Pacific Coast

Measuring Harmful Algal Blooms along the Pacific Coast

Late summer is the peak time for harmful algae that can turn lakes into toxic scum, cancelling fishing trips and fouling water supplies. While the Pacific Northwest doesn’t get anything near the activity that turned parts of Lake Erie into bright green slime, our coasts are vulnerable in late summer to this largely unpredictable – and in our case unseen – menace. University of Washington oceanographers have created a tool to help predict when harmful algae might strike. A few days’ warning could prevent last-minute beach closures or shellfish harvest losses, and reduce the risk of eating a clam filled with a neurotoxin that can lead to permanent short-term memory loss, or even death.

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