Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 4321
Title: Harmful Algal Blooms along the North American West Coast Region: History, Trends, Causes, and Impacts
Author: A. J. Lewitus, R. A. Horner, D. A. Caron, E. Garcia-Mendoza, Vera L. Trainer
Publication Year: 2012
Keywords: harmful algal blooms,Alaska,Washington,Oregon,British Columbia,Mexico,

Along the Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico, harmful algal blooms
(HABs) have caused losses to natural resources and coastal economies, and human sicknesses
and deaths for decades. Recent reports indicate a possible increase in their prevalence and
impacts of these events on living resources over the last 10-15 years. Two types of HABs pose
the most significant threat to coastal ecosystems in this “west coast” region: dinoflagellates of
the genera Alexandrium, Gymnodinium, and Pyrodinium that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning
(PSP) and diatoms of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia that produce domoic acid (DA), the cause of
amnesic food poisoning (ASP) in humans. These species extend throughout the region, while
problems from other HABs (e.g., fish kills linked to raphidophytes or Cochlodinium, macroalgal
blooms related to invasive species, sea bird deaths caused by surfactant-like proteins produced
by Akashiwo sanguinea, hepatotoxins from Microcystis, diarrhetic shellfish poisoning from
Dinophysis, and dinoflagellate-produced yessotoxins) are less prevalent but potentially
expanding. This paper presents the state-of-knowledge on HABs along the west coast as a step
toward meeting the need for integration of HAB outreach, research, and management efforts.


A review of harmful algal blooms along the west coast of North America

Theme: Sustainable, safe and secure seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities
Foci: Provide scientific support to ensure safe seafood for healthy populations and characterize how human activities and climate affect risks from pathogens, chemical contaminants and biotoxins
Official Citation:

Lewitus, A.J., Horner, R.A., Caron, D.A., Garcia-Mendoza, E., Hickey, B.M., Hunter, M., Huppert, D.D., Kelly, D., Kudela, R.M., Langlois, G.W., Largier, J.L., Lessard, E.J., RaLond, R., Rensel, J.E., Strutton, P.G., Trainer, V.L., Tweddle, J.F. 2012. Harmful Algal Blooms along the North American West Coast Region: History, Trends, Causes, and Impacts. Harmful Algae. 19: 133-159.