Mail:   Phone: 1-360-276-8211 x7001

Algal Bloom

Quinault Algal Bloom Project

Quinault Algal Bloom Project
A GIS look at the Algal Blooms along the Washington coast

The Quinault Algal Bloom Project is keeping an eye on the ocean for blue-green algae. The Quinault Division of Natural Resources monitoring project allows the Quinault Indian Nation to detect harmful algal blooms in the ocean.

A Harmful Algal Bloom is the rapid and uncontrolled growth of algae in either freshwater or marine environments. Because some algae produce toxins, such as domoic acid, they can be harmful to humans, mammals, birds and fish when they are ingested. As blooms grow, they deplete the oxygen in the water and block sunlight from reaching fish and plants.

The Quinault Algal Bloom Project has found that in the marine environment, single-celled, microscopic, plant-like organisms naturally occur in the well-lit surface layer of any body of water. These organisms, referred to as phytoplankton or microalgae, form the base of the food web upon which nearly all other marine organisms depend. Of the 5000+ species of marine phytoplankton that exist worldwide, about 2% are known to be harmful or toxic. Blooms of harmful algae can have large and varied impacts on marine ecosystems, depending on the species involved, the environment where they are found, and the mechanism by which they exert negative effects.

Quinault Algal Bloom Project
A closer look at an Algal Bloom rolling into the shore

Harmful Algal Blooms can last from a few days to many months. After the bloom dies, the microbes which decompose the dead algae use up even more of the oxygen, which can create fish die-offs. When these zones of depleted oxygen cover a large area for an extended period of time neither fish nor plants are able to survive.

Among the causes of Harmful Algal Blooms are high-nutrient conditions in water, mostly of nitrates and phosphorus which are emitted by agriculture and other industries. Higher water temperature and less circulation are also factors. Harmful Algal Blooms can cause significant harm to animals, the environment and economies

Working within the Quinault Division of Natural Resources Fisheries Department, QDNR has developed laboratory techniques to test shellfish in Taholah rather than depend on labs in Seattle.

Environmental Protection Manager, Daniel Ravenel  »  360.276.8215 x7301

Marine Resources Scientist, Joe Schumacker  »  360.276.8215 x327

Environmental Scientist, Mark Mobbs  »  360.276.8215 x292

Fisheries Senior Scientist, Larry Gilbertson  »  360.276.8215 x261

Additional Quinault Algal Bloom Resources:

Center for Native Peoples and the Environment

Environmental Protection Online

Indigenous Environmental Network

National Geographic Society

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

What is a Harmful Algal Bloom?