Discolorations in Chandeleur Sound Likely a Huge Algal Bloom

Lines Across La.'s Chandeleur Sound

I just got off the phone with the National Wildlife Federation’s Maura Wood in Louisiana. She and organizer Amanda Moore have been working with researchers to identify the causes & possible effects of those mysterious discolorations they spotted on Sunday’s overflight of Chandeleur Sound.

Under a microscope, researchers found dinoflagellates, revealing the discoloration is being caused by an algal bloom. An early look shows no sign of oil or dispersants present, but our partners will conduct more in-depth testing over the coming days.

Could the algal bloom be related to the Gulf oil disaster? Hard to say. Algal blooms aren’t uncommon after heavy summer rains. But a bloom of this size has both researchers & local fishing boat captains alarmed. Could the algae be flourishing, at least in part, because the sea creatures that usually eat it were impacted by the oil disaster? Could the tropical depression in the Gulf stir up nutrients, fueling the bloom even more? Will this algal bloom lead to double jeopardy for bigger marine life already stressed by the oil disaster?

NWF will keep working in hopes of answering these questions.

Published: August 11, 2010