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Algal bloom


An algal bloom or marine bloom or water bloom is a rapid increase in the population of algae in an aquatic system. Algal blooms may occur in freshwater as well as marine environments. Typically only one or a few phytoplankton species are involved and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration of the water resulting from the high density of pigmented cells. Although there is no officially recognized threshold level, algae can be considered to be blooming at concentrations of hundreds to thousands of cells per milliliter, depending on the causative species. Algal bloom concentrations may reach millions of cells per milliliter. Colors observed are green, yellowish-brown, or red. Bright green blooms may also occur. These are a result of blue-green algae, which are actually bacteria (cyanobacteria).

Some algal blooms are the result of an excess of nutrients (particularly phosphorus and nitrogen) into waters and higher concentrations of these nutrients in water cause increased growth of algae and green plants. As more algae and plants grow, others die. This dead organic matter becomes food for bacteria that decomposes it. With more food available, the bacteria increase in number and use up the dissolved oxygen in the water. When the dissolved oxygen content decreases, many fish and aquatic insects cannot survive. This results in a dead area.

Algal blooms may also be of concern as some species of algae produce neurotoxins. At the high cell concentrations reached during some blooms, these toxins may have severe biological impacts on wildlife. Algal blooms composed of phytoplankters known to naturally produce biotoxins are often called Harmful Algal Blooms, or HABs.   Algal blooms are monitored using biomass measurements coupled with the examination of species present. A widely-used measure of algal and cyanobacterial biomass is the chlorophyll concentration. Peak values of chlorophyll a for an oligotrophic lake are about 1-10 µg/l, while in a eutrophic lake they can reach 300 µg/l. In cases of hypereutrophy, such as Hartbeespoort Dam in South Africa, maxima of chlorophyll a can be as high as 3,000 µg/l.[1] [2]


Red tide

Main Article Red tide

The so-called Red tide is an example of a naturally occurring estuarine or marine algal bloom. Red tide is caused by species of dinoflagellates, often present in sufficient numbers (thousands or millions of cells per milliliter) to turn the water a hue of red.

Black water

So-called black water is a dark discoloration of sea water, first described in the Florida Bay in January 2002.[3]

Water treatment

Algal blooms sometimes occur in drinking water supplies. In such cases, toxins from the bloom can survive standard water purifying treatments. Researchers at Florida International University in Miami are experimenting with using 640-kilohertz ultrasound waves that create micropressure zones as hot as 3,700 °C. This breaks some water molecules into reactive fragments that can kill algae.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Zohary, T.; and R. D. Roberts (1990). "Hyperscums and the population dynamics of Microcystis aeruginosa". J. Plankton Res. 12 (2): 423-432. doi:10.1093/plankt/12.2.423. ISSN 0142-7873.
  2. ^ Bartram, J.; Wayne W. Carmichael, Ingrid Chorus, Gary Jones, and Olav M. Skulberg (1999). "Chapter 1. Introduction", Toxic Cyanobacteria in Water: A guide to their public health consequences, monitoring and management. World Health Organization. ISBN 0-419-23930-8. Retrieved on 2007-06-09. 
  3. ^ Black water status report. Florida Marine Research Institute (2002, May 4). Retrieved on 2007-06-09.
  4. ^ Song, W.; Teshiba T., Rein K., and O'Shea K. E. (2005). "Ultrasonically induced degradation and detoxification of microcystin-LR (cyanobacterial toxin)". Environmental Science & Technology 39 (16): 6300-6305. doi:10.1021/es048350z.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Algal_bloom". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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