SCCWRP and its partners have initiated a study examining whether an algal toxin known as domoic acid can linger in seafloor sediment following a harmful algal bloom (HAB) event.
The study, launched this summer, will seek to quantify domoic acid concentrations in the Southern California Bight following a domoic acid event last spring.
Researchers are interested in understanding the fate of domoic acid in seafloor sediment. Little is known about
how long domoic acid takes to break down in sediment and whether it can pose a long-term threat to organisms that come into contact with it. Most efforts to date have focused on short-term ecological impacts.
Domoic acid is a common toxin produced during HABs events. The spring 2017 bloom in the Bight caused widespread mortality among bird populations, sickened marine mammals, and prompted a six-month shellfish consumption advisory for Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County and the Orange County Sanitation District already have collected sediment and benthic infauna samples for the analysis. Results are expected to be available in early 2018.
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