NOAA Project to Protect Coastal Oregon Communities from Algal Blooms
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has
awarded $456,630 as part of a five-year, $2.3 million project to
develop integrated harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring and event
response programs, officials announced on Oct. 10.
These programs will strive to minimize the impact of HAB events on
coastal Oregon communities. Funds were awarded to Oregon State
University, the University of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Fish
and Wildlife (ODFW) through NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean
"Harmful algal blooms can have a devastating effect on unique
coastal ecosystems like those along the Oregon coast," said John H.
Dunnigan, NOAA's assistant administrator for the National Ocean
Service. "This effort will reduce the public health threat of toxic
algal blooms and further NOAA efforts to understand and predict harmful
algal bloom events along the Pacific coast."
NOAA and its Oregon partners will research the ecological mechanisms
and oceanographic conditions that lead to blooms of toxic algae and
determine the role of upwelling and transport in the population
dynamics of HAB species in Oregon coastal waters. This research will
provide better information on toxin-producing algae to help predict
future blooms and enhance shellfish monitoring programs jointly
conducted by ODFW and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
The team will enhance the Oregon HAB monitoring and response systems
by integrating oceanographic data gathered from remote sensing,
ship-based field sampling, radar derived current data and data from
autonomous underwater vehicles with data generated by ongoing plankton
and shellfish monitoring programs. This research will lead to a
streamlined ecosystem-based HAB monitoring and event response program
Toxic algal blooms have had a significant impact on Oregon coastal
communities and their economy for decades. In 2003, ODFW estimated that
the cost of a domoic acid (HAB toxin) related closure of the razor clam
fishery at Clatsop Beach, Ore., cost the local communities $4.8 million.
The NOAA National Ocean Service is addressing the national HAB
threat by developing regional harmful algal bloom observation
technology and forecasting systems, like this Oregon coast effort.
Similar efforts in Florida and Texas have lead to a HAB bulletin, which
updates managers on the potential effects and distribution of a HAB
The MERHAB program seeks to partner researchers from universities
and NOAA with representatives of state and local agencies responsible
for the HABS monitoring programs in their regions.