Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Dinophysis — the new HAB on the block

Cross-regional comparison of Dinophysis bloom dynamics, drivers, and toxicity

The goal of this project is to identify and quantify factors controlling Dinophysis blooms and DSP across the US as a means of developing optimized regional early warning systems and management plans. It is hypothesized that a combination of temperature, stratification, prey, and nutrient input combine to determine the success of Dinophysis in US coastal ecosystems. A carefully coordinated and collaborative study including high-resolution phytoplankton time series, field collections, and multi-factorial laboratory experiments using isolates of Dinophysis species from important shellfish harvesting sites in the US (Gulf of Mexico, Puget Sound, Long Island Sound and Chesapeake Bay), will be undertaken to address the following objectives: 1) Identify the environmental factors that control Dinophysis blooms and toxicity within and across regions; 2) Use isolates to characterize genetic variability and potential toxicity, under a variety of conditions; 3) Develop and optimize an early warning system for Dinophysis blooms and DTXs in US coastal regions; and 4) Partner with state and industry groups to closely match management needs, disseminate results, and aid regional management programs.


NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)
Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) program

Project Period

(Sept 1, 2017 – August 31, 2020)

Program Contact

Lead PI: Juliette Smith (Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences)
Vera Trainer (NWFSC)
Quay Dortch, Program Manager NCCOS ECOHAB Program

Clear and present danger: monitoring and management of lipophilic shellfish toxins in Washington State

Project background

Lipophilic shellfish toxins comprise an extensive suite of compounds including those associated with the human syndromes known as diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) and azaspiracid shellfish poisoning (AZP). As a result of recent bloom events and subsequent human intoxications in Washington State (USA) due to DSP, there is a critical and urgent need for State public health officials to be able to monitor and accurately quantify harmful algal bloom (HAB) species associated with DSP and azaspiracid shellfish poisoning (AZP) and their toxins. There is now evidence that lipophilic toxins associated with DSP and AZP are present in water and/or shellfish, including oysters and mussels from Puget Sound and razor clams from the WA coast.


Monitoring and Event Response to Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) program

Project Period

Sept 1, 2015 – August 31, 2018

Program Contact

Vera Trainer, NWFSC Marine Biotoxin Program
Marc Suddleson, Program Manager NCCOS MERHAB Program

NWFSC Co-Investigators

Bich-Thuy Eberhart, Brian Bill, Nicolaus Adams, Penelope Xian (ERT contractor)



    Dinophysis dividing. Photo courtesy of Anthony Odell, ORHAB.
    View images.
    Learn more about Okadaic Acid (DSP) in shellfish (download the PDF).
    SoundToxins: Be on the lookout for these new species of concern (download the PDF).