Harmful Algal Blooms

ABCs of HABs

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a worldwide phenomenon posing a significant threat to public health, economies, water quality, and fisheries. Increasingly, the phrase is repeated in the media as HABs have increased in frequency, duration, and distribution in recent decades.

HABs come in a rainbow of colors, but at the end of this rainbow there’s no pot of gold. In fact, it’s just the opposite and New York waters have more than their fair share.

During the 1950s there were green tide blooms in Long Island’s (LI) south shore bays that negatively impacted the oyster fishery. In the mid-1980s, brown tides occurred in LI’s south shore and east end bays, destroying eelgrass beds, scallop fisheries and hard clam fisheries. Since 2002, toxin-producing red tide blooms have caused shellfishery closures on LI Sound bays. For decades, the toxins in cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) have negatively impacted drinking water in New York’s Great Lakes region and even fresh water ponds on Long Island.
 
What’s the difference among these harmful blooms? What should you know about the harm they can cause?

Follow the links for more on harmful algal blooms and the work of New York Sea Grant researchers and extension specialists.

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