California HAB Bulletin: December 2022

DECEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

*note: for the full suite of HAB taxa sampled weekly, see the SCCOOS and CeNCOOS HABMAP database and the Imaging FlowCytobot Dashboard.

Pseudo-nitzschia -

  •  * Important update to C-HARM in this bulletin. C-HARM version 3 is now operational at NOAA CoastWatch. Major change include: new operational circulation model (WCOFS) for currents, salinity, and temperature and VIIRS ocean color products in place of MODIS Aqua. WCOFS is a 4DVAR data assimilative model run at NOAA Coast Survey Development Lab (CSDL). Issues with salinity accuracy persist and have notable consequences for the Particulate Domoic Acid predictions, which we will address in these bulletins.   
  • C-HARM tells us where conditions are suitable for species of the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia spp. (all size classes) to grow well and where they might be more likely to produce the deadly neurotoxin, domoic acid (DA). Three independent models are run daily to produce nowcasts and three-day forecasts of the probability of a bloom, the probability of a DA event for particulate DA only, and the probability of a DA event for the cellular portion of DA only. Here, in the bulletin, we summarize nowcasts for the month.
  • C-HARM predictions for Pseudo-nitzschia spp. blooms in December contain some pixelation from VIIRS. Early and mid-month are the most intense periods for possible Pseudo-nitzschia bloom development. As in prior months, this indicates vast statewide potential for large blooms sometimes extending very far offshore. This suggests a large percentage of false positives but also corroborates something we've seen for a while in the California Current, which is that conditions are fairly regularly conducive in most coastal zones to supporting Pseudo-nitzschia populations.  
  • HABMAP weekly pier sampling indicated moderate to low Pseudo-nitzschia spp. activity in the nearshore environment, in keeping with recent trends at the piers. However, bloom levels were reached at several locations in December: Cal Poly Pier in late December and Santa Monica Pier in mid and late December, the latter being the more toxigenic size class, P. "seriata."
  • Pseudo-nitzschia activity from CDPH coastal sampling in November, however, detected the more toxigenic size class, Pseudo-nitzschia 'seriata,' as 'Common', but not 'Abundant,' at a northern California site in Humboldt Bay and 'Present' at many sties throughout California.  
  • A selection of CA Imaging FlowCytobot Network images from the piers and offshore buoys in mid-December illustrates some interesting latitudinal gradients from north to south. Imagery from Santa Cruz Wharf and further offshore at the MBARI Power Buoy in Monterey suggests there was bay-wide potential for an Akashiwo sanguinea bloom, which can be harmful to birds. There was some potential for a Lingulodinium polyedra bloom at Newport Beach Pier in Orange County but not so much further south a the offshore Del Mar mooring and Scripps Pier in San Diego. 
  • C-HARM probabilities for particulate domoic acid (pDA) in the early part of December indicate that the greatest risk for DA exposure is the Southern California Bight and central coast from Point Conception to San Francisco Bay. Later in the month, this risk shifts south, with high probabilities from Point Conception into the Santa Barbara Channel and further south into the Bight.
  • The pattern for C-HARM predictions of cellular domoic acid (cDA) probability shows patches of high risk from the north coast to southern California throughout the month with the most prolonged risk for high cDA along the Central Coast and along the South Coast mid to late December. A strong offshore bolus of potentially high cDA water forms late in the month off the central coast from Point Conception to San Francisco Bay. 
  • Consistent with the high DA risk predicted by C-HARM for the central coast, there were two stranding cases from DA toxicosis in Santa Cruz, joining the four reported last month by TMMC from Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo Counties in early December. Interestingly, IFCB images from the MBARI Power Buoy offshore in Monterey Bay show dinoflagellates becoming dominant around November 19 and the last diatom bloom with Pseudo-nitzschia populations prior to that, suggesting that if the California Sea Lions acquired DA from a bloom in the bay, it would have been many weeks prior to the strandings, or the animals ingested DA subsurface or in another coastal zone. The Santa Cruz Wharf IFCB did not capture any transient or short-lived Pseudo-nitzschia blooms in mid November to December either, mostly dinoflagellate-dominated communities. 
  • CDPH lifted an advisory on January 9 for mussels, scallops, and most types of clams in Humboldt County due to PSP and ASP. However, the advisory related to sport-harvested razor clams from Humboldt and Del Norte counties remains in effect due to ASP risk. Given the low depuration (detox) rates of razor clams, DA levels in razor clams are usually more a reflection of long-term exposure to DA rather than real-time or recent bloom conditions. However, since this same advisory was lifted in June and then reinstated in November of this year, there has likely been persistent, if low-level, production of DA in the North Coast region. Note that the annual quarantine on consuming recreational mussels was lifted at the end of October, except for Humboldt, San Mateo, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo.

Alexandrium -

  • CDPH did not detect any significant levels of Alexandrium spp. in December, which is a reduction in Alexandrium activity from November. In line with that, the Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) advisory was lifted on January 9 for mussels, scallops, and most types of clams in Humboldt County. HABMAP detected only low levels of Alexandrium at several sites in December. 

Summary written by Clarissa Anderson on 24 January 2023

C-HARM Model

Probability of Pseudo-nitzschia Bloom for December 2022

Probability of Particulate DA for December 2022

Probability of Cellular DA for December 2022

Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring & Alert Program (HABMAP) 

Note that data for some stations are not shown because they are not yet recorded in the public HABMAP archive.

Differentiating Pseudo-nitzschia species by light microscopy is difficult. For this reason, Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" does not refer to an actual species but rather the larger size class of Pseudo-nitzschia, which is generally a more toxigenic group of species. Alternatively, Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" refers to the smaller size class that is generally non-toxigenic. The dashed line on the plots demarcates the 10,000 cells/L "bloom" threshold designated here for Pseudo-nitzschia populations only.

More information and data visualizations on the statewide HAB network and forecasting system can be found on the California HABMAP website and on the SCCOOS Harmful Algal Bloom page.  

No water samples were collected at Trinidad Pier in December.

The Trinidad Pier shore station is supported by CeNCOOS.

No water samples were collected at Humboldt South Bay in December.

The Humboldt South Bay shore station is supported by CeNCOOS.

No water samples were collected at Humboldt Bay in December.

The Humboldt Bay shore station is supported by CeNCOOS.

One water sample was collected at the Bodega Marine Lab shore station on December 5. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" and Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" were detected below the threshold. Alexandrium spp. were detected and domoic acid results are pending.

The Bodega Marine Lab shore station is supported by CeNCOOS PI John Largier.

One water sample was collected at the Bodega Marine Lab Buoy station on December 20. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" and Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" were detected below the threshold. Alexandrium spp. were detected and domoic acid results are pending.

The Bodega Marine Lab Buoy shore station is supported by CeNCOOS PI John Largier.

No water samples were collected at Tomales Bay Mouth in December.

The Tomales Bay Mouth shore station is supported by CeNCOOS.

One water sample was collected at Tomales Bay Buoy on December 14. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" and Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" were detected below the threshold. Alexandrium spp. were detected and domoic acid results are pending.

The Tomales Bay Buoy shore station is supported by CeNCOOS.

One water sample was collected at Tomales Bay Inner on December 14. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was not dected and Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected below the threshold. Alexandrium spp. were detected and domoic acid results are pending.

The Tomales Bay Inner shore station is supported by CeNCOOS.

Three water samples were collected at Santa Cruz Wharf in December. Molecular probes for toxigenic Pseudo-nitzschia in the "seriata" class are conducted for this site, and was not detected. Alexandrium spp. were detected each time (December 7, 14, 21). Domoic acid results are pending.

The Santa Cruz Wharf shore station is supported by CeNCOOS PI Raphael Kudela at UCSC

Four water samples were collected at Monterey Wharf in December. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was detected twice (December 7, 22) below the bloom threshold. Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected once on December 28 below the threshold. Alexandrium spp. were not detected and domoic acid results are pending.

Monterey Wharf shore station is supported by CeNCOOS. 

Four water samples were collected at Cal Poly Pier in December. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was detected on three occasions (December 13, 20, 26), with the last sample above the threshold. Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected once on  December 26. Alexandrium spp. were not detected and domoic acid results are pending.

Cal Poly Pier shore station is supported by SCCOOS and PI Ally Pasulka at Cal Poly. 

Five water samples were collected at Stearns Wharf in December, though the last sample from December 26 is pending analysis. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" and Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" were detected three times (December 9, 15, 20) below the bloom threshold. Alexandrium spp. were detected on December 20. Domoic acid results are pending. 

Stearns Wharf is supported by SCCOOS and PIs Mark Brzezinski and Libe Washburn at UCSB. 

Four water samples were collected at Santa Monica Pier in December. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" and Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" were detected twice (December 19, 26), with 'seriata' above the threshold. Alexandrium spp. were not detected and domoic acid results are pending.

The Santa Monica Pier shore station is supported by SCCOOS and PI Rebecca Shipe at UCLA.

Three water samples were collected at Newport Beach Pier in December. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima", Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" and domoic acid were not detected. Alexandrium spp. were detected once on December 19. 

Newport Beach Pier is supported by SCCOOS and PI David Caron at USC.

Four water samples were collected at Scripps Pier in December. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was detected twice (December 12, 27) below the bloom threshold. Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" and Alexandrium spp. were not detected. Domoic acid results are pending.

Scripps Pier is supported by SCCOOS and PIs Melissa Carter and Clarissa Anderson at UCSD. 

CDPH observations for Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" and Alexandrium spp.

View the interactive map and data table of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) data from January 2019 to present, developed by SCCOOS, below. Or, view CDPH Toxic Phytoplankton Observations Map with layers of Pseudo-nitzschia and Alexandrium spp. as well as other phytoplankton species observations (in the pop-up windows).

Data are provided by the Environmental Management Branch of the CDPH. Please note, starting in July 2019, CDPH moved to only reporting Pseudo-nitzschia of the seriata complex and not all Pseudo-nitzschia spp. as previously provided. 

Please email CDPH at Susan.Paulukonis@cdph.ca.gov for any potential marine HAB-related illness in humans.

 

From December 1-31 2022, water samples were collected by volunteers and sent to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for analysis.

Pseudo-nitzchia "seriata" group was detected in 28 of the 70 samples:

Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected at "Common" density levels once:

  • 2022-12-05 10% Humboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.

Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected at "Present" density levels on 9 occasions: 

  • 2022-12-02 5% Pillar Point Harbor
  • 2022-12-06 4% Redondo Beach Pier
  • 2022-12-07 1% Drakes Bay, Chimney Rock LBS
  • 2022-12-09 1% Bolsa Chica
  • 2022-12-12 2% La Jolla, Scripps Pier
  • 2022-12-20 1% Goleta Pier
  • 2022-12-23 3% Santa Monica Pier
  • 2022-12-28 5% Santa Monica Pier
  • 2022-12-30 2% Imperial Beach Pier

Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected at "Rare" density levels on 18 occasions:

  • 2022-12-01 0.5% Imperial Beach Pier
  • 2022-12-02 0.5% Bolsa Chica
  • 2022-12-03 0.5% Palos Verdes Rocky Pt Offshore
  • 2022-12-03 0.5% Catalina Island, Avalon Bay
  • 2022-12-05 0.5% Tomales Bay, Lease #M430-15
  • 2022-12-05 0.5% Wilson Creek
  • 2022-12-06 0.5% Pillar Point Harbor
  • 2022-12-07 0.5% Goleta Pier
  • 2022-12-08 0.5% Imperial Beach Pier
  • 2022-12-08 0.5% Hermosa Beach Pier
  • 2022-12-12 0.5% Tomales Bay, Lease #M430-15
  • 2022-12-14 0.5% Goleta Pier
  • 2022-12-15 0.5% Port San Luis, Diablo Cove
  • 2022-12-16 0.5% Palos Verdes Rocky Pt Offshore
  • 2022-12-21 0.5% Lake Merritt Boating Center
  • 2022-12-22 0.5% Imperial Beach Pier
  • 2022-12-23 0.5% Bolsa Chica
  • 2022-12-26 0.5% Tomales Bay, Lease #M430-15

Alexandrium spp. were detected in 6 of the 70 samples: 

Alexandrium spp. were not detected at "Common" density levels. 

Alexandrium spp. were not detected at "Present" density levels.

Alexandrium spp. were detected at "Rare" density levels on 6 occasions: 

  • 2022-12-01 0.5% Imperial Beach Pier
  • 2022-12-07 0.5% Santa Cruz Wharf
  • 2022-12-07 0.5% Goleta Pier
  • 2022-12-15 0.5% Port San Luis, Diablo Cove
  • 2022-12-21 0.5% Kashia Coastal Reserve
  • 2022-12-29 0.5% Goleta Pier

CDPH and OEHHA Health Advisories

January 9. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the shellfish safety notification today related to sport-harvested mussels, scallops, and most types of clams in Humboldt County. An advisory for razor clams in Humboldt County remains in effect.

December 12. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the shellfish safety notifications today related to sport-harvested mussels, scallops, and clams in San Mateo, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo counties.

October 31. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the statewide annual quarantine on mussels taken by sport harvesters from California’s ocean waters ends at midnight on Monday, October 31, 2022, for all coastal counties except Humboldt, San Mateo, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo.

For the latest closures and updates, please visit the CDPH Health Advisories page as a central location of information related to CDPH health advisories. Also available is a map showing the current CDPH Recreational Bivalve Shellfish Advisories (see below).

The HAB-related illness workgroup has developed a new webpage for marine HAB-related illness tracking work (https://oehha.ca.gov/fish/general-info/marine-harmful-algal-bloom-hab-related-illness-tracking). 

Water Sample Imagery

A network of Imaging FlowCytobots (IFCBs) continuously photographs particles, such as plankton, in the water. Using machine learning, plankton species can be automatically identified. This will help improve the ability to detect and respond to Harmful Algal Blooms, including the ability to assess conditions that may lead to toxin production or blooms of toxin-producing algae.

Additional images and data are available on the IFCB dashboard.

A mosaic of images from mid-December.

California Marine Mammal and Seabird Strandings from Suspected DA Toxicosis

Domoic acid (DA) is a potent neurotoxin produced by some diatom species of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia. Species exposed to DA can result in seizures, epilepsy, cardiomyopathy, and death depending upon the ingested dose. DA toxicosis commonly occurs in California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus), presumably due to a combination of foraging behavior and seasonal movements. The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC), Channel Islands Marine Wildlife Institute (CIMWI), California Wildlife Center (CWC), Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles (MMCC-LA), Marine Animal Rescue (MAR), the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC), SeaWorld, and Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) act like an emergency room by working to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles. 

MMCCLA, CWC, PMMC, Sea World, and CIMWI did not record any strandings due to suspected domoic acid in December 2022. Results from SWFSC and MAR are pending.

December strandings due to suspected DA toxicosis occurred in the following counties:

  • Santa Cruz (TMMC)
    • December 4 - Yearling, male, California Sea Lion
  • San Luis Obispo (TMMC)
    • December 5 - Adult, female, California Sea Lion

At this time, we do not have data from the North Coast Marine Mammal Center.  

Contacts if you find a LIVE stranded animal

Contacts if you find a DEAD stranded animal

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