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Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB)

And its effects on the environment


Harmful Algae Blooms
A harmful algal bloom (HAB) is an algal bloom
that causes negative impacts to other
organisms via production of natural toxins,
mechanical damage to other organisms, or by
other means. HABs are often associated with
large-scale marine mortality events and have
been associated with various types of shellfish
poisonings.
Description
Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) (also known as red
tides)is an algal bloom that causes negative
impacts to other organisms via:
Production of natural toxins
Mechanical damage to other organisms
Hypoxia (Oxygen Depletion)
By other means
In recent years, there has been growing alarm
over what appears to he an "epidemic" of HABs
worldwide.

Causes of HAB
Harmful algal blooms can be due to a number of reasons:
Eutrophication
Water pollution
Transfer of shellfish for aquaculture
Transportation from ships' ballast water
Low Turbidity
Optimal temperature (Eg :25 C are optimal for the growth of
bluegreen algae)
Stable conditions (low flows, long retention times, light winds
and minimal turbulence)
The growth of marine phytoplankton (both non-toxic and toxic)
is generally limited by the availability of nitrates and
phosphates, which can be abundant in coastal upwelling zones
as well as in agricultural run-off and other human activities.


How do cyanobacterial blooms form?
Cyanobacteria also known as blue-green bacteria, blue-green
algae, and Cyanophyta, is a phylum of bacteria that obtain
their energy through photosynthesis. The name
"cyanobacteria" comes from the color of the bacteria.
Cyanobacterial blooms occur when algae that are normally
present grow exuberantly. Within a few days, a bloom can
cause clear water to become cloudy.
The blooms usually float to the surface and can be many
inches thick, especially near the shoreline. Cyanobacterial
blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in
nutrients such as fertilizer runoff or septic tank overflows.
Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late
summer or early fall.
Effects of HAB on Human Health
Humans get infected primarily by HAB toxins that are present in shellfish.
Some HAB toxins can become airborne during a bloom and people can
become ill by inhaling toxins.
Shellfish poisoning
Amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP)
Diarrheal shellfish poisoning (DSP)
Neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP)
Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)
Ciguatera sh poisoning
Pfiesteria
Most symptoms of HAB act primarily on the nervous system and are
permanent.
Common symptoms of HAB are diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain,
nausea and headaches.

Effects Of HAB on the Economy
Closures of shellfish beds
Lost production in fisheries
Severe reductions in local/regional tourism
and associated service industries
Public illness
Medical treatments
Advisories
Prevention of HAB
Replanting of riparian forests (forest adjacent to a body
of water)
Silt fence
Detention basin
Retention basin
Water treatment
Reducing the nutrient load of a water body:
Avoiding the excessive use of fertilisers and manures on
agricultural land within the catchment.
Protecting soil from erosion.
Treating sewage to remove the nutrients nitrogen and
phosphorus.