Red Tide

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Red Tide”? Well,I found an article that refers to the rapid reproduction of algae  a.k.a. “red tide”. Algae  can color large bodies of water red or green (the color depends on the species of algae). Recently in Australia, many beaches closed due to the bloody red water. So how dangerous are algae blooms? Some species of algae cause certain diseases or poisonings.

So can red tides hurt humans? It depends on the species that’s blooming, said Gilly. Blooms of certain dinoflagellates are associated with saxitoxin, a shellfish toxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in people. “If it’s in a harbor or contained bay, it’s probably a serious matter,” he said.

Algae not only hurts humans, algae blooms can harm the environment and all living in it severely:

Large red tides can be harmful to fish, said Lauren Freeman, a Ph.D. candidate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. “As the algae die and sink in the shallow coastal water, they decompose and oxygen is taken from the water column. This can lead to temporary low oxygen zones,” she added. These zones can kill marine animals if the oxygen depletion is severe enough.

The low oxygen zones are also known as dead zones. These dead zones can form anywhere the levels of algae increase.

Clovelly Beach in Australia

Clovelly Beach in Australia taken by Craig Greenhill

Once I read through the article, the little explanation of the cause of algae blooms inspired me to continue searching. I found another article that describes the reason of more recent algae blooms:

Shandong Province city of Qingdao

Shandong Province city of Qingdao taken by Imaginechina/AP

Such massive blooms require warm ocean temperatures and waters rich in the elements phosphorus and nitrogen, which are found in fertilizers and can be carried to the coasts by water runoff. While the algae isn’t toxic, big blooms can create oxygen-poor “dead zones” in the water and leave an unpleasant odor on beaches.

The ocean’s temperature gradually increases due to human carbon emissions. With these warmer waters, not only are algae blooms more frequent, but species of marine bacteria can invade and harm the species originally living in the ecosystem. Fertilizers give plants extra nutrients so that they can grow faster and bigger. The runoff of nutrients in fertilizer feeds bacteria in the ocean which can cause the algae to thrive.Thriving algae can then take over  ecosystems. Now, algae may not interest you, but we, not actively trying to stop global warming or at least control algae bloom, just continue the unnecessary damage.


6 responses to “Red Tide”

  1. alexc0017 says :

    This really makes everyone remember that global warming is not just about the temperature. The rising temperatures of the ocean cause bigger problems. This shows we need to change something fast.

    • alliej0017 says :

      I agree with you, Alex. While the majority of what people hear about the impacts of climate change is the rise in temperature, anthropogenic climate change affects many more things, such as sea level rise, erosion, agriculture, and now our beaches, as Lauren pointed out. These “Red Tides” are very mysterious indeed–while not harmful right now, they very well may become a more important problem. I can see these affecting the tourism industry, among other aspects of society. Great post altogether.

  2. maryt0017 says :

    Great post! These algea blooms are yet another piece of evidence that supports global warming. They may seem small now, but as you mentioned in your article they are growing. The more present day evidence we see of global warming popping up, the more we know that it is happening, and that we need to take action soon- before its too late.

  3. carolinem0017 says :

    Lauren-I really enjoyed reading your post! I have never heard about a “Red Tide” before. Maybe you could research what this means for the future of global warming. I also wanted to know how we will stop this from happening, and how the algae dies. Can they kill off the algae that is already there? Again, great Post!

  4. ArmanV0017 says :

    Lauren, I love the way that you tied in the “Red Tide” with global warming. At first I was thinking, where is she going on this, but then when you brought up the fact that warming sea temperature was helping algae grow and survive it all made sense. As to your first question, when I hear Red Tide it reminds me of the Crimson Tide which is Alabama

  5. kmlewis1234567890 says :

    Lauren, I like the title and then the question at the very beginning. When I first saw “red tide” I thought of Alabama Roll Tide. This is really crazy that these are the some of the effects of global warming. Hopefully we can do something to stop people like that little boy in the second picture from getting paralytic shellfish poisoning.

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