Researchers predict ‘moderate’ red tide this year

Posted April 07, 2012, at 1:51 p.m.

BOSTON — Researchers are predicting a “moderate” red tide this year, which they say could close shellfish beds on 126-250 miles of New England coastline.

The research by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is based on how much of the toxic red tide algae they found in its dormant state in the Gulf of Maine last fall. The dormant “cysts” act like seeds for the next year’s bloom.

The researchers then combine the cyst data with computer simulations of various conditions that affect the algae’s growth, such as winds and currents.

The prediction helps the shellfish industry and environmental managers better prepare for the annual bloom.

The algae doesn’t harm shellfish, but it can cause potentially fatal poisoning in humans who eat the shellfish that absorb it.

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