Return of Toxic Algae Bloom in San Francisco Bay; Severity Uncertain

The same kind of toxic algae bloom that spread over the San Francisco Bay last summer and killed tens of thousands of fish is thought to be the cause of the red tide that has turned the water around the East Bay shoreline tea brown.

Return of Toxic Algae Bloom in San Francisco Bay; Severity Uncertain
Return of Toxic Algae Bloom in San Francisco Bay; Severity Uncertain

Toxic Algae Bloom Is Back

The toxic algae bloom that decimated the fish population in San Francisco Bay last summer is returned, or at least a version of it has. In Berkeley, Emeryville, and Albany, scientist have noticed the distinctive reddish-brown water. It caused by high quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus that are released into the sea as waste from wastewater treatment plants, leaving behind nutrients that algae love to overgrow and occasionally take on rust-colored colour.

On Monday afternoon, Eileen White, executive officer of the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, stated, “We have confirmed with our partners that it’s the same species as last year.” The organism has been discovered in bay waters in Emeryville, Albany, the Berkeley Marina, Richardson Bay, and Belvedere Cove, as well as off the coast of Marin County, close to Muir Beach. The good news is that this toxic algae bloom has not yet caused any marine animal deaths.

Jon Rosenfield, the group’s senior scientist, said that “two years in a row is quite alarming,” noting that it was still not obvious how terrible the toxic algae bloom would get. “There’s really nothing that people can do to stop a bloom like this once it’s started. It just has to burn itself out,” he added.

Is It Harmful Or Harmless?

Not all algae bloom are bad; in fact, some may even be good for marine environments. However, others generate fatal bloom, such as the one that appeared in August of last year and killed an incalculable number of fish in a matter of weeks. According to local officials, the toxic algae bloom species known by the scientific name Heterosigma akashiwo, which caused havoc last year, is thought to be the cause of the current bloom.

Red tides, according to scientists, are predicted to happen more frequently as the climate warms and sea temperatures rise. Warm water with high nutrient loading are like a one-two punch. The nutrient loads from the wastewater-treatment plants are the one that we can manage more easily and fast. Removing the fuel load will keep those nutrients out of the bay waters, which is the solution.

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