Consequences of Algal Blooms
Algae are chlorophyll containing organisms which occur in both marine and freshwater environments and can be unicellular or multi-cellular. Algae form the base of many food chains and are essential to marine life. However although algae are beneficial to aquatic life, the rapid multiplication of algae can form something commonly referred to as algal blooms. Algal blooms occur due to a number of factors. If there is a decrease in the number of grazers in the environment in which the algae are occurring, the algae would thrive as there would be not be enough of these available on the algae to keep the algae population under control. Temperature plays a key factor as most algae especially blue-green algae thrive in warmer temperatures. The optimal temperature for algae growth is usually 25 ˚ C and most algae are not able to survive in cold conditions. An increase in nutrients is also a factor in the increase in algal blooms. When nutrients containing phosphorus and nitrogen enters water ways from agricultural land and through soil erosion this causes an increase in algal blooms since nutrients encourage growth of algae. This process is known as eutrophication and is an increasing problem globally. Algal blooms out compete organisms and decolorize water. Some algae are able to produce toxins known as neurotoxins and are referred to as Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB’s). The cyanobacteria which are blue-green produce harmful toxins which have harmful effects on humans, birds, shellfish, fishes and other marine organisms. A few forms in which HAB’s can occur are red tides and golden tides. Red tides belong to a group of dinoflagelates and are produced by microscopic alga called Karenia brevis, and golden tides belong to the group chrysophyta. There are many consequences of the occurrence of HAB’s such as death of aquatic life, health and economic effects. The accumulation of algal blooms affects aquatic life in many...
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