NEWS

B.C. algae bloom threat reduced

07/08/2015 05:08 EDT | Updated 07/08/2016 05:59 EDT
The threat from a large toxic algae bloom, which settled off the B.C. coast in May, has abated, according to scientists.

The Pacific Ocean bloom had sparked concern along the coast from California all the way to Alaska.

Though the situation in B.C. waters wasn't as bad as further south, the bloom was serious enough to cause shellfish closures. At the time, researchers were concerned that shellfish and other marine life, including razor clams, crabs, hake and West Coast sardines, could have elevated levels of domoic acid, a neurotoxin that causes amnesic shellfish poisoning.

However, Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist Ian Perry said strong northerly winds in the past week have helped bring B.C. waters to normal. Those winds churned up water helping to drive the bloom off shore, Perry said.

"That tends to produce what we call up-welling," Perry said. "It drives surface water offshore, and it brings nutrient water from down below back up into the surface areas."

As a result, acid levels in B.C.waters have dropped, Perry said, noting recent samples are below detectable levels. He said it takes three samples and then a safety period before shellfish areas can reopen.

Perry said more monitoring will happen but he noted that -- for now -- conditions are closer to normal.

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