- 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).
- C-HARM predictions for Pseudo-nitzschia spp. blooms in March suggested much greater bloom potential throughout the month, with some intermittent spread offshore and then contraction back to the coastline, particularly for northern California. In contrast to February, intense hot spots in the Southern California Bight were obvious. This is the expected climatology for the month of March, the true start to spring bloom season and often the accompanying toxic events.
- As in February, Pseudo-nitzschia spp. of both classes were blooming at all sites at some point in March. The highest abundances of the toxigenic 'seriata' group were detected at Santa Monica and Newport Piers in March, correlating with animal stranding events in that region in February-March. This is a good indicator of the onset of the spring bloom period as all diatoms, not just Pseudo-nitzschia species, are poised for an increase in dominance as spring conditions become more prevalent.
- Pseudo-nitzschia activity from CDPH sampling pointed to bloom activity for the 'seriata' group at Catalina Island, Santa Barbara, and near SF at Pacifica Pier. Depending on when CDPH sampled at that HABMAP piers relative to HABMAP scientists, there are differences in whether CDPH caught bloom levels of Pseudo-nitzschia at those sites, pointing to the incredible variability in plankton dynamics.
- The CA Imaging Flow Cytobot Network snapshot from March 16th shows a large Lingulodinium polyedra "red tide" bloom (not considered harmful) off the coast of San Diego at Del Mar Mooring, with mixed assemblages of diatoms dominating as you move further north up the CA coast.
- C-HARM probabilities in March for particulate domoic acid (pDA) pointed to one major hot spot along the central coast outside of SF Bay and into Marin/Sonoma County coastlines (with a large offshore extent) as well as an intense narrow band of potential DA activity along the North Coast. The Santa Barbara Channel grew into a potentially large hot spot in late March.
- The pattern for C-HARM predictions of cellular domoic acid (cDA) probability was similar to pDA for March, although the southern extent of the potential central CA hot spot decreased for cDA over the course of March and covered much of the central CA coastline and offshore region. As with pDA, cDA probabilities intensified to 80-100% in the Santa Barbara Channel region by the end of March.
- Interestingly, for much of the month where domoic acid data are available from HABMAP sampling sites, no DA was detected.
- Only two DA toxicosis cases were reported by TMMC in March -- both from the central coast (Monterey on March 6 and Santa Cruz on March 17). PMMC did report a very large stranding event potentially from DA poisoning in late February, with some animals continuing to wash up in Orange County into early March. The central coast strandings are consistent with the significant DA hot spot predicted in that region by C-HARM in March. The Orange County deaths (21 animals in total) align with high pDA probabilities in that area in the mid- to late February C-HARM predictions.
- CDPH health advisories have been stable with no new advisories since December, although the recreational razor clam advisory still stands for Del Norte County.
- CDPH had only one "Present" measure for Alexandrium spp. in March, at Goleta Pier in Santa Barbara. This is consistent with HABMAP sampling which found no Alexandrium spp. at pier sites in March. There are currently no advisories for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.
*Please note that HABMAP sampling, CDPH sampling, and marine mammal rescues have been greatly reduced in response to COVID-19 safety measures.
Summary written by Clarissa Anderson on March 24, 2022
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.
Five water samples were collected at Santa Cruz Wharf in March. Molecular probes for toxigenic Pseudo-nitzschia in the "seriata" class are conducted for this site, and was detected on 4 occasions (March 9, 16, 23, 30), with only March 16 above the bloom threshold. Alexandrium spp. were not detected. Domoic acid was not detected, but one sample is pending.
The Santa Cruz Wharf shore station is supported by CeNCOOS PI Raphael Kudela at UCSC.
Four water samples were collected at Cal Poly Pier in March. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was detected on each occasion (March 7, 14, 21, 28), with the last sample above the bloom threshold. Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected on March 14 and March 28, both below the threshold. Alexandrium spp. were detected once on March 28. Domoic acid results are pending.
Cal Poly Pier shore station is supported by SCCOOS and PIs Ryan Walter and Ally Pasulka at Cal Poly.
Four water samples were collected at Stearns Wharf in March. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was detected on each occasion (March 6, 15, 21, 29), all below the bloom threshold. Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was also detected on each occasion, with the March 29th sample above the threshold. Alexandrium spp. were not detected and 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 March. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was detected once on March 28th above the bloom threshold. Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected on March 7, 21, 28, with the last sample above the bloom threshold. Alexandrium spp. and domoic acid were not detected.
The Santa Monica Pier shore station is supported by SCCOOS and PI Rebecca Shipe at UCLA.
Four water samples were collected at Newport Beach Pier in March. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was detected on each occasion (March 7, 14, 21, 28) with the first two samples above the bloom threshold. Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected on March 14, 21, 28, with the last two samples above the bloom threshold. Alexandrium spp. was detected once on March 7 and domoic acid results are pending.
Newport Beach Pier is supported by SCCOOS and PI David Caron at USC.
Four water samples were collected at Scripps Pier in March. Pseudo-nitzschia "delicatissima" was detected on each occasion (March 7, 14, 21, 28), with the first and last samples above the bloom threshold. Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was also detected on each occasion, with only the last sample above the bloom threshold. Alexandrium spp. and domoic acid were not detected.
Scripps Pier is supported by SCCOOS and PIs Melissa Carter and Clarissa Anderson at UCSD.
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 March 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 57 of the 85 samples:
Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected at "Common" density levels on 3 occasions:
- 2022-03-02 15% Crystal Cove SB, OFFSHORE
- 2022-03-07 15% Catalina Island, Toyon Bay
- 2022-03-26 10% Pacifica Pier
Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected at "Present" density levels on 37 occasions:
- 2022-03-01 5% Mendocino, Noyo Harbor
- 2022-03-01 5% San Diego Bay, U.S. Navy Pier
- 2022-03-01 7% Imperial Beach Pier
- 2022-03-02 1% Mendocino, Noyo Harbor
- 2022-03-02 3% Catalina Island, Toyon Bay
- 2022-03-02 5% Santa Cruz Is., Scorpion Anch.
- 2022-03-03 1% Bolsa Chica
- 2022-03-03 1% Santa Cruz Wharf
- 2022-03-04 5% Pismo Pier
- 2022-03-04 5% Ventura, Port Hueneme Pier
- 2022-03-04 7% San Francisco, Presidio Pier
- 2022-03-05 1% Pacifica Pier
- 2022-03-07 7% La Jolla, Scripps Pier
- 2022-03-09 2% Palos Verdes, OFFSHORE
- 2022-03-10 8% Santa Cruz, Seacliff Pier
- 2022-03-11 1% Bolsa Chica
- 2022-03-11 2% Ventura, Port Hueneme Pier
- 2022-03-12 5% Pacifica Pier
- 2022-03-12 5% Pillar Point Harbor
- 2022-03-14 2% Agua Hedionda Lagoon
- 2022-03-14 2% La Jolla, Scripps Pier
- 2022-03-14 3% Bodega Harbor, USCG Dock
- 2022-03-14 5% Tomales Bay, Lease #M430-15
- 2022-03-15 1% Monterey Bay, Commercial Wharf
- 2022-03-16 1% Santa Cruz Wharf
- 2022-03-18 1% San Clemente Pier
- 2022-03-20 4% Pacifica Pier
- 2022-03-21 2% Tomales Bay, Lease #M430-15
- 2022-03-23 7% Santa Cruz Wharf
- 2022-03-24 3% San Francisco, Presidio Pier
- 2022-03-24 5% Pillar Point Harbor
- 2022-03-25 2% Drakes Bay, Chimney Rock LBS
- 2022-03-25 3% Bolsa Chica
- 2022-03-28 2% La Jolla, Scripps Pier
- 2022-03-28 4% Tomales Bay, Lease #M430-15
- 2022-03-29 2% Bodega Harbor, USCG Dock
- 2022-03-30 2% Monterey Bay, Commercial Wharf
Pseudo-nitzschia "seriata" was detected at "Rare" density levels on 17 occasions:
- 2022-03-02 0.5% Goleta Pier
- 2022-03-06 0.5% Pacific Beach Pier
- 2022-03-07 0.5% Tomales Bay, Lease #M430-15
- 2022-03-07 0.5% Morro Bay, Boat Launch
- 2022-03-09 0.5% Pillar Point Harbor
- 2022-03-09 0.5% Imperial Beach Pier
- 2022-03-09 0.5% San Diego Bay, Shelter Island
- 2022-03-14 0.5% Morro Bay, Boat Launch
- 2022-03-14 0.5% Humboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.
- 2022-03-14 0.5% Catalina Island, Avalon Bay
- 2022-03-17 0.5% Imperial Beach Pier
- 2022-03-19 0.5% Morro Bay, North T-Pier
- 2022-03-21 0.5% Morro Bay, Boat Launch
- 2022-03-21 0.5% Mendocino, Noyo Harbor
- 2022-03-21 0.5% Trinidad Pier
- 2022-03-24 0.5% Imperial Beach Pier
- 2022-03-28 0.5% Humboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.
Alexandrium spp. were detected in 12 of the 85 samples:
Alexandrium spp. were not detected at "Common" density level.
Alexandrium spp. were detected at "Present" density levels on one occasion:
- 2022-03-09 1% Goleta Pier
Alexandrium spp. were detected at "Rare" density levels on 11 occasions:
- 2022-03-02 0.5% Goleta Pier
- 2022-03-04 0.5% Pismo Pier
- 2022-03-04 0.5% Ventura, Port Hueneme Pier
- 2022-03-07 0.5% Tomales Bay, Lease #M430-15
- 2022-03-08 0.5% Port San Luis, Diablo Cove
- 2022-03-08 0.5% Monterey Bay, Commercial Wharf
- 2022-03-11 0.5% Ventura, Port Hueneme Pier
- 2022-03-14 0.5% La Jolla, Scripps Pier
- 2022-03-16 0.5% Pismo Pier
- 2022-03-28 0.5% La Jolla, Scripps Pier
- 2022-03-30 0.5% San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pier
CDPH and OEHHA Health Advisories
April 2. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warned consumers today not to eat raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada because they may be linked to an outbreak of norovirus illnesses in California. Canadian officials continue to investigate the source of norovirus illnesses and have closed multiple growing regions in British Columbia for sanitary contamination.
December 16. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising consumers not to eat sport-harvested razor clams from Del Norte County due to dangerous levels of naturally occurring domoic acid, also referred to as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, being detected.
November 29. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the shellfish safety notification for Dungeness crab caught in state waters from the Sonoma/Mendocino County Line (38° 46.125' N. Latitude) to Point Reyes (38° N. Latitude) in Marin County.
November 5. Due to the detection of elevated levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers not to eat the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters.
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).
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.
The mosaic of images were taken on March 16 and span from San Francisco (top) to San Diego (bottom). This example illustrates the latitudinal and environmental variation in species.
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), and SeaWorld act like an emergency room by working to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles.
SeaWorld and MMCCLA did not record any strandings due to suspected domoic acid in March 2022. Results from CWC, MAR, and CIMWI are pending.
March strandings due to suspected DA toxicosis occurred in the following counties:
- Monterey (TMMC)
- March 6 - pup, female, California Sea Lion
- Santa Cruz (TMMC)
- March 17 - adult, female, California Sea Lion
PMMC also had 9 deceased sea lions picked up in Crystal Cove, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach since February 16th. DA results are pending.