Many algal species form blooms commonly referred to as "red tides," each with distinct impacts. The New England Harmful Algal Bloom event is caused by the toxic alga Alexandrium fundyense. Blooms of this microscopic alga occur periodically in the Gulf of Maine.
Red tides, also known as harmful algal blooms or HABs, can produce potent neurotoxins that accumulate in filter-feeding shellfish and other parts of the marine food web. Shellfish contaminated with the toxin from Alexandrium, if eaten in large enough quantity, can cause illness or death from paralytic shellfish poisoning or PSP. States have well-established, rigorous shellfish monitoring programs to protect human health, so consumers are assured that commercially available shellfish are safe for consumption.
New England Red Tide Research and Response
To learn more about New England HAB research and response efforts visit:
Revised July 12, 2012
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