Underwater view of the Wirewalker, capturing the environment where algal blooms are created

Scripps Institute of Oceanography Awarded $5M to Study Toxic Algae Blooms

The blooms have the potential to kill marine mammals, but researchers don’t know why

Researchers in San Diego will get the opportunity to understand why algal blooms in the ocean can be deadly to some marine species.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography with $4.9 million to look for these harmful blooms along the California coast. Researchers will be “using a suite of technologies that can target and sample ocean microbes and sift through genetic code in real time,” according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Researchers at Scripps Oceanography discovered the “genetic basis” of an acid produced in toxic algal blooms. This acid accumulates in the tissues of shellfish and fish and when consumed by larger mammals, the acid can lead to death, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Now, researchers at the San Diego-based Institute will try to uncover why these algae blooms create toxins.

Scripps physical oceanographer Drew Lucas (left) and marine tech Josh Manger deploying a Wirewalker from the stern of Scripps Oceanography research vessel Roger Revelle in the South China Sea Photo credit: Sean Whelan of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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