The smallest organisms in our world are often the most important. This holds especially true when it comes to algae.
Some algae species are crucial to entire ocean ecosystems – like kelp and seaweeds – but others can be seriously toxic if given the opportunity to run out of control.
This is where Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) come in.
Commonly known as ‘red tides’, these blooms are made up of microscopic algae which create toxins that kill fish and make shellfish dangerous to eat. The toxins also have been known to make surrounding air difficult to breathe.
HABs occur all around the world, and even worse: their occurrence may be on the rise. HABs are a national concern because they affect not only the health of people and marine ecosystems, but also the ‘health’ of local and regional economies.
But now you can become a citizen scientist and help the world to better understand these blooms.
Learn more about how you can become involved with NOAA’s Phytoplankton Monitoring Network, and help to study your own local waterways.
Algae are a crucial base to marine ecosystems – providing the energy that supports diverse food webs and thriving coastlines. But there exists a delicate balance which we need to understand, that keeps these tiny organisms in check.