From: Associated Press
Published October 1, 2004 12:00 AM

Government Issues Forecasts of Harmful Algae in Gulf of Mexico

WASHINGTON — The government will begin issuing forecasts Friday of red tides, harmful blooms of algae, in the Gulf of Mexico.


The forecasts will be issued at least twice weekly and will be sent to local coastal managers in the Gulf states, who will issue any needed public advisories, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.


Red tides in the Gulf are caused by the toxic algae Karenia brevis. They can cause fish kills, force closure of shellfish beds, kill dolphins and manatees, and cause respiratory distress in people.


These toxic blooms have occurred along the coasts of all five Gulf states and take place nearly every year on the Gulf coast of Florida.


The forecasts are developed using information from commercial and government satellites, meteorological observing stations, and field data collected by state and university monitoring programs.


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"This system will alert coastal communities to (algal) events so that they can implement protective measures," said Richard Spinrad, assistant administrator of the NOAA Ocean Service, which developed the system.


As the agency continues its study of the algal blooms, it says the potential exists for similar forecast systems for other U.S. coasts.


Harmful algal blooms occur in waters of almost every U.S. coastal state, and the agency said data suggests that they becoming more frequent.


Source: Associated Press


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