NOAA-funded scientists predict that New England will experience a “moderate” red tide in the coming spring and summer, similar to the red tide of 2012. The toxic algae Alexandrium fundyense blooms in the Gulf of Maine and can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Scientists base their forecast on how many of the algae’s cysts (the dormant state of the algae) are present in sediments from the Gulf of Maine from the previous fall. This data is entered into a computer model to produce an variety of bloom scenarios.
"Red tide is a chronic problem throughout the Gulf of Maine, affecting commercial and recreational harvesting interests," said Chris Nash, shellfish program manager for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. "Ultimately our goals are to protect public health and give consumers confidence in the quality of the seafood products they purchase from markets and restaurants, and these forecasts are useful in realizing those goals."
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