Phytoplankton are microscopic plants at the base of the food web in the sea. Phytoplankton contain chlorophyll, often float near the surface of the ocean and use the sun as an energy source to photosynthesize, similar to terrestrial plants.
The two main groups of phytoplankton are diatoms and dinoflagellates. Diatoms have hard structures composed of silica and dinoflagellates are soft-bodied algae with flagella which allows for some mobility in the water column.
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are often referred to as “Red Tides”, but not all HABs are red and not all red tides are harmful.
This course will give an overview of which of these phytoplankton species are harmful around the world and more specifically, which of these Harmful Algal Species are found in Puget Sound, their history and what impacts they have on the local environment, marine organisms, human health and the economy.
Results from some of our recent HAB studies in Puget Sound, (http://depts.washington.edu/psahab/) will be presented, along with a summary of regional monitoring efforts throughout the Salish Sea (https://soundtoxins.org/) and (https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html).