Discolorations in Chandeleur Sound Likely a Huge Algal Bloom
"I just got off the phone with the National Wildlife Federation's Maura Wood in Louisiana. She and organizer Amanda Moore have been working with researchers to identify the causes & possible effects of those mysterious discolorations they spotted on Sunday's overflight of Chandeleur Sound.
Under a microscope, researchers found dinoflagellates, revealing the discoloration is being caused by an algal bloom. An early look shows no sign of oil or dispersants present, but our partners will conduct more in-depth testing over the coming days.
Could the algal bloom be related to the Gulf oil disaster? Hard to say. Algal blooms aren't uncommon after heavy summer rains. But a bloom of this size has both researchers & local fishing boat captains alarmed. Could the algae be flourishing, at least in part, because the sea creatures that usually eat it were impacted by the oil disaster? Could the tropical depression in the Gulf stir up nutrients, fueling the bloom even more? Will this algal bloom lead to double jeopardy for bigger marine life already stressed by the oil disaster?
NWF will keep working in hopes of answering these questions."
The National Wildlife Federation's Maura Wood just returned from a boat trip out on Chandeleur Sound to investigate the discolorations she observed on Sunday's overflight:
Maura says they were able to find the same dark maroon water, but from visual observations & field tests, they were unable to determine if the discoloration was caused by red tide, oil, dispersants, a combination, or something else. They observed very little life in the area, finding only a few tiny creatures in three separate small dredgings along the bottom. They brought back water samples to the shore, which scientists will examine under a microscope & test. I'll let you know results as soon as we have them.
NWF will also join our Louisiana partner organizations to lead a boat trip tomorrow (Wendesday) morning through the Mississippi River's main navigation channels to talk about lower river redesign as part of coastal Louisiana restoration. To be clear, while the oil disaster's impact will be a part of the discussion and we'll be on the lookout for signs of oil & affected wildlife, it will NOT be the main focus of the trip. The trip leaves from Venice Marina at 10am CST with a couple of spots available, if you're interested in joining, please email me ASAP.