IFOP detects ‘disturbing’ increase of harmful microalgae abundance

[Chile] The last samples taken in the sector of Melinka, Corcovado Gulf and the southeast of the island of Chiloé, by the Harmful Algal Studies Center (CREAN) of the Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP), show a worrying increase in the abundance of Alexandrium catenella.

IFOP reports that this sudden increase occurred in a period of 5-7 days, and suggests that noxious microalgae have been transported from the Aysén region (Chonos and Guaitecas), where intense and extensive blooming is occurring, excluding the Pitipalena estuary and the Tortel sector.

As a consequence of these signals, CREAN has scheduled work for the Pacific coast of the Los Lagos region, which will begin in the coming days and will extend from the southern tip of the island of Chiloé (Caleta Zorra) to Mansa Bay, in the north of the region. In each of the sectors, work will be done up to 10 miles off the coast, taking water samples for the analysis of phytoplankton and nutrients, and recording oceanographic and meteorological parameters, as well as collecting shellfish on the coast for the analysis of toxins.

Also, this Thursday an extensive survey begins that will cover different sectors of the Aysén region, including the Yacaf and Puyuhuapi channels, to obtain new information that allows to appreciate the status of the algal bloom that currently affects that region.

The background information collected will not only allow us to appreciate if the event is in decline, but also make it possible to collect important information and live samples from the microalga, both for laboratory experiments, as well as to improve the quality of the physical-biological model that is is developing to understand and have a better early warning linked to these events.


Photo: ‘Red tide’ produced by the microalgae Alexandrium catenella. (Photo: M. Zhou)

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