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VICTORIA (CNS) -- An algae bloom so big it can be seen from space has scientists worried that global warming might have contributed to creating the swirling mass of phytoplankton running the length of the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Scientists at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, B.C., near Victoria, have been tracking the bloom of algae since NASA posted a picture featuring the swirling blue-green cloud on its website Sunday. They believe the bloom consists mainly of coccolithophore, a naturally occurring, single-cell phytoplankton.
It's the biggest algae bloom institute physicist Jim Gowen has ever seen.
Originally posted by Relentless
It's my understanding that excessive algae blooms are extremely detrimental to the local habitat. In fact they can cause die off of fish by robbing the waters of oxygen. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
More importantly, isn't an algae bloom of this size that far north cause for concern? Usually these things would happen in warmer waters much further south. Again correct me if I'm wrong.
The size and visibility of it are one thing, but I find the location the most worrisome point of all.
Researchers will head out aboard the Canadian Coast Guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier on Friday to collect water samples from the bloom area. They want to confirm which species of algae the bloom consists of, as well as the level of algae concentration.
Unlike other algae which produce toxins, known as red tide, coccolithphore algae is not poisonous. But in vast quantities, it could harm other marine life, said institute research scientist Angelica Pena.
Alive, the algae produces oxygen, but when it dies and decomposes, it can consume so much oxygen from the water that fish and marine mammals will die.