California HAB Bulletin: 2023 Late Summer/Early Fall Report

Late Summer/Early Fall Report

August 2023 – October 2023

NEW BULLETIN FORMAT

Apologies are necessary for significant delays in bulletin preparation and dissemination since July. SCCOOS staff have been working diligently on giving the bulletin a makeover, and here we are, just in time for the holidays. This bulletin synthesizes August to October HAB data, so keep an eye out in early 2024 for the late Fall roll-up.

We welcome feedback on formatting and whether quarterly bulletins vs monthly bulletins are more useful to you.

Stay safe and warm, all!

August was the end of the dramatic and traumatic domoic acid event that extended along the coast from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. However, California Sea Lions continued to strand well into August, suggesting either delayed intoxication, or ongoing offshore blooms. The several strandings associated with potential DA toxicosis reported in August shifted into central California, as far north as Sonoma County, as opposed to the southern California nexus of strandings from May-July. This distributions of strandings aligned with C-HARM estimates of ongoing bloom and domoic acid potential, given that particulate DA risk from C-HARM was predicted to be high along the entire coast until October with the broadest offshore extent in central California. Towards mid to late October, heightened pDA risk shifted to central and southern California. Meanwhile, cellular DA probabilities were only high in northern California for August and September and then shifted south to central and southern California, hovering at 50-60% probability for the month of October. As partially reported in the last bulletin, levels of the less toxigenic Pseudo-nitzschia ‘delicatissima’ size class were at bloom levels at all southern California HABMAP pier sites in July. Both size classes of Pseudo-nitzschia bloomed at Cal Poly Pier in July. The less toxigenic size class bloomed again at this site in early September and late October, while the more toxignenic ‘seriata’ group approached bloom levels several times from August to October at Cal Poly Pier and was well above bloom levels at all Monterey and Santa Cruz Wharfs during the July to early August toxic bloom period. Abundances of both size classes remained low at the northern California HABMAP sites all summer and early fall. 

Domoic acid measurements from HABMAP were not well aligned with the frequency of high Pseudo-nitzschia ‘seriata’ levels at many sites in the July bloom period. There was one relatively high hit for DA at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara in mid-July during the bloom and two very high DA levels recorded at Cal Poly Pier in July and mid-August. No DA measurements are available for the northern California sites. 

CDPH state monitoring of the toxigenic ‘seriata’ size class identified relative hot spots in the Humboldt Bay area in September and October, aligning with advisories for consumption of razor clams for northern California (Del Norte County) due to the risk of Amnesic shellfish poisoning. Interestingly, no advisories for domoic acid were issued in the central or southern California regions during the large stranding event from May to late July/early August. Very high levels approaching or exceeding 10,000 cells/L of Alexandrium spp. were recorded by HABMAP at all central California sites from July to the end of October. CDPH sampling at Morro Bay corroborated high central California levels, leading to CDPH and CDFW advisories on recreational harvests of mussels, scallops, and clams in the San Luis Obispo County region. That warning was only just lifted on 12 December 2023.

Interestingly, the IFCBs (robotic microscopes) at southern California HABMAP pier and mooring sites captured dinoflagellate blooms, mostly of the genus Ceratium/Tripos, aligning with “red tides” witnessed along the South Coast in late summer. At Santa Cruz, diatoms were thriving in August, most likely associated with the prolonged upwelling period along the central and northern coast that extends well into August. However, there were few Pseudo-nitzschia present in the Santa Cruz IFCB imagery during that time. That community shifted to an almost monospecific bloom of Akashiwo spp. by September as waters presumably warmed and stratified in late summer.

Summary written by Clarissa Anderson, 20 December 2023

Particulate Domoic Acid

Particulate domoic acid (pDA) is the measurement of total domoic acid toxin that is potentially extant in a given area. This forecast provides a probability for where that concentration of toxin is predicted to exceed the threshold that classifies a Harmful Algal Bloom (> 500 nanograms per liter).

The C-HARM v3 model generates nowcast and forecasts of the probability of Pseudo-nitzschia concentrations of in excess of 10,000 cells/L, the probability of particulate domoic acid > 500 nanograms/L, and the probability of cellular domoic acid > 10 picograms/cell in California and Southern Oregon coastal waters. Inputs for the model include near real-time satellite observations, gap-filled chlorophyll a, 486nm reflectance, and 551nm reflectance fields from the S-NPP NOAA VIIRS sensor plus nowcast and forecast data of surface salinity, sea surface temperature, and surface currents from WCOFS ROMS.

Cellular Domoic Acid

Cellular domoic acid (cDA) is the measure of total domoic acid toxin calculated per cell of Pseudo-Nitzchia. This forecast provides a probability for where those cells are expected to be producing toxin at high levels (> 10 picograms per cell).

The C-HARM v3 model generates nowcast and forecasts of the probability of Pseudo-nitzschia concentrations of in excess of 10,000 cells/L, the probability of particulate domoic acid > 500 nanograms/L, and the probability of cellular domoic acid > 10 picograms/cell in California and Southern Oregon coastal waters. Inputs for the model include near real-time satellite observations, gap-filled chlorophyll a, 486nm reflectance, and 551nm reflectance fields from the S-NPP NOAA VIIRS sensor plus nowcast and forecast data of surface salinity, sea surface temperature, and surface currents from WCOFS ROMS.

Pseudo-nitzschia

Pseudo-nitzschia is a neurotoxin producing diatom that is observed along the California Coast. Blooms of this phytoplankton can be detrimental to surrounding marine ecosystems. This forecast provides a probability for where the concentration of cells in the water exceed the threshold of a Harmful Algal Bloom ( > 10,000 cells/L).

The C-HARM v3 model generates nowcast and forecasts of the probability of Pseudo-nitzschia concentrations of in excess of 10,000 cells/L, the probability of particulate domoic acid > 500 nanograms/L, and the probability of cellular domoic acid > 10 picograms/cell in California and Southern Oregon coastal waters. Inputs for the model include near real-time satellite observations, gap-filled chlorophyll a, 486nm reflectance, and 551nm reflectance fields from the S-NPP NOAA VIIRS sensor plus nowcast and forecast data of surface salinity, sea surface temperature, and surface currents from WCOFS ROMS.

California Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring & Alert Program

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.

Data for some stations are not shown as they are not yet recorded in the public HABMAP archive.
This time series focuses on the the data collected through the scope of this bulletin and 12 month period that precedes it. Explore the variables and regions that make up the CalHABMAP collective dataset using the plot controls.

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.
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Suspect DA Strandings, August-October 2023

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. 

Each month, water samples are collected by volunteers and sent to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for analysis.

The relative abundance of potentially DA-producing Pseudo-nitzschia ‘seriata’ size class and PSP toxin-producing Alexandrium spp. are catalogued:

Alexandrium spp.
Pseudo-nitzchia "seriata" group
Water Sample Detailed Data
DateCountySitePN Percent Comp.PN DensityAL Percent Comp.AL Density
8/2/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch5PRESENT0ABSENT
8/2/2023San DiegoImperial Beach Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
8/3/2023San Luis ObispoSan Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
8/3/2023San Luis ObispoPismo Pier3PRESENT0ABSENT
8/4/2023MarinBerkeley Marina0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/5/2023San MateoPillar Point Harbor0.5RARE0ABSENT
8/7/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch2PRESENT0ABSENT
8/7/2023MarinTomales Bay, Lease #M430-150ABSENT0.5RARE
8/7/2023SonomaBodega Harbor, USCG Dock4PRESENT0ABSENT
8/7/2023San DiegoAgua Hedionda Lagoon0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/7/2023MarinBerkeley Marina0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/7/2023MarinPoint Richmond, Ferry Point0ABSENT3PRESENT
8/7/2023San DiegoLa Jolla, Scripps Pier0.5RARE1.5PRESENT
8/8/2023San Luis ObispoPort San Luis, Diablo Cove10COMMON0.5RARE
8/9/2023Santa CruzSanta Cruz Wharf0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/9/2023Santa BarbaraGoleta Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
8/10/2023Santa BarbaraSanta Cruz Is., Scorpion Anch.0.5RARE0ABSENT
8/11/2023OrangeBolsa Chica0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/11/2023Los AngelesCatalina Island, Avalon Bay0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/4/2023Los AngelesPalos Verdes, OFFSHORE0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/5/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch0.5RARE1PRESENT
9/5/2023San DiegoLa Jolla, Scripps Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/5/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, North T-Pier5PRESENT10COMMON
9/6/2023San Luis ObispoSan Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
9/6/2023Santa CruzSanta Cruz Wharf0.5RARE0ABSENT
9/6/2023San DiegoImperial Beach Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
9/7/2023San Luis ObispoPort San Luis, Diablo Cove0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/8/2023HumboldtOrick Beach0.5RARE0ABSENT
9/9/2023HumboldtTrinidad Pier5PRESENT0.5RARE
9/10/2023MontereyMonterey Bay, Commercial Wharf3PRESENT0.5RARE
9/11/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch0ABSENT5PRESENT
9/11/2023MarinTomales Bay, Lease #M430-150ABSENT5PRESENT
9/11/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.0.5RARE3PRESENT
9/11/2023San DiegoLa Jolla, Scripps Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/2/2023MarinDrakes Bay, Chimney Rock LBS0ABSENT3PRESENT
10/2/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.15COMMON0ABSENT
10/2/2023San DiegoLa Jolla, Scripps Pier0.5RARE0.5RARE
10/3/2023Los AngelesMalibu Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
10/4/2023San DiegoImperial Beach Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
10/6/2023OrangeBolsa Chica0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/9/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.16COMMON0ABSENT
10/9/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch5PRESENT0ABSENT
10/9/2023San DiegoAgua Hedionda Lagoon0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/9/2023San Luis ObispoCayucos Pier2PRESENT0ABSENT
10/10/2023San Luis ObispoPort San Luis, Diablo Cove1PRESENT0ABSENT
10/10/2023San Luis ObispoPort San Luis, Diablo Cove3PRESENT0.5RARE
10/12/2023OrangeSan Clemente Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/12/2023Del NorteHidden Beach2PRESENT0ABSENT
8/14/2023MarinTomales Bay, Lease #M430-153PRESENT0ABSENT
8/14/2023MendocinoPoint Arena Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/16/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Eureka Marina0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/15/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, King Salmon4PRESENT0ABSENT
8/16/2023MarinRichmond, Marina Bay Harbor1PRESENT0ABSENT
8/14/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch0.5RARE1PRESENT
8/21/2023MarinTomales Bay, Lease #M430-150.5RARE0.5RARE
8/14/2023MendocinoMendocino, Noyo Harbor0.5RARE0.5RARE
8/16/2023San Luis ObispoPort San Luis, Diablo Cove10COMMON0ABSENT
8/14/2023MarinRodeo Beach0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/20/2023MendocinoMendocino, Noyo Harbor0ABSENT1PRESENT
8/18/2023Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara Ch., Naples Pt0.5RARE0ABSENT
8/28/2023SonomaBodega Harbor, USCG Dock0ABSENT4PRESENT
8/28/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.1PRESENT0ABSENT
8/19/2023San Luis ObispoSan Simeon Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/28/2023MarinDrakes Bay, Chimney Rock LBS0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/30/2023San MateoPacifica Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
8/30/2023San MateoPacifica Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/26/2023San FranciscoSan Francisco Bay, BAY0.5RARE1PRESENT
8/31/2023VenturaVentura, Port Hueneme Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
8/29/2023MendocinoMendocino, Noyo Harbor0ABSENT7PRESENT
8/28/2023MendocinoPoint Arena Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
8/26/2023San Luis ObispoCayucos Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/18/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch0.5RARE5.5PRESENT
9/18/2023MarinTomales Bay, Lease #M430-150ABSENT0.5RARE
9/17/2023MarinDrakes Bay, Chimney Rock LBS0.5RARE8PRESENT
9/18/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.0.5RARE0.5RARE
9/14/2023OrangeSan Clemente Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/19/2023San MateoBean Hollow State Beach0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/19/2023San MateoPillar Point Harbor0.5RARE0.5RARE
9/18/2023San DiegoLa Jolla, Scripps Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/25/2023MarinTomales Bay, Lease #M430-150.5RARE0ABSENT
9/18/2023MendocinoMendocino, Noyo OFFSHORE0.5RARE6PRESENT
9/20/2023Santa CruzSanta Cruz, Capitola Pier1PRESENT0ABSENT
9/25/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.51ABUNDANT0ABSENT
9/29/2023San FranciscoSan Francisco, Presidio Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
9/22/2023San Luis ObispoSan Simeon Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/25/2023MendocinoPoint Arena Pier0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/17/2023MarinGFNMS, San Francisco Line 6W6PRESENT1PRESENT
9/17/2023MarinGFNMS, San Francisco Line 6E15COMMON0.5RARE
9/16/2023San FranciscoGFNMS, San Francisco Line N6WN0ABSENT0.5RARE
9/23/2023MarinGFNMS, Marin Line 4W0.5RARE0.5RARE
9/23/2023MarinGFNMS, Marin Line 4E10COMMON0ABSENT
9/28/2023San MateoBean Hollow State Beach2PRESENT0ABSENT
9/28/2023Del NorteHunter Rock, north30COMMON0ABSENT
10/16/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.9PRESENT0ABSENT
10/16/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch8PRESENT0ABSENT
10/23/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch3PRESENT0ABSENT
10/23/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.6PRESENT0ABSENT
10/17/2023MendocinoMendocino, Noyo Harbor0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/17/2023San DiegoImperial Beach Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/18/2023Santa CruzSanta Cruz Wharf0.5RARE0.5RARE
10/25/2023MontereyMonterey Bay, Commercial Wharf0ABSENT0.5RARE
10/20/2023OrangeBolsa Chica6PRESENT0ABSENT
10/27/2023MarinRichmond, Marina Bay Harbor3PRESENT0ABSENT
10/27/2023MendocinoMendocino, Noyo Harbor0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/30/2023MarinDrakes Bay, Chimney Rock LBS0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/30/2023San Luis ObispoMorro Bay, Boat Launch0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/30/2023HumboldtHumboldt Bay, Indian Is. Ch.0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/27/2023VenturaVentura, Port Hueneme Pier0.5RARE0ABSENT
10/27/2023OrangeBolsa Chica0ABSENT0.5RARE
10/16/2023San DiegoLa Jolla, Scripps Pier1PRESENT0ABSENT

Percent composition categories help us look at phytoplankton trends across an entire region to evaluate risk of biotoxin presence. Many other factors contribute to our evaluation of risk in an area. These samples are posted for informational purposes only. They are not intended to inform the public of the presence or lack of risk. For the latest health advisory information, see the CDPH Health Advisory Map below.

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.

California HAB Bulletin

All data and reports have been synthesized by SCCOOS for the California Harmful Algal Bloom Monthly Bulletin.

Data Access & Resources:

C-HARM, NOAA CoastWatch ERDDAP
Toxic Phytoplankton Observations, CDPH
Imaging FlowCytoBot Dashboard
CalHABMAP Datasets, SCCOOS ERDDAP

 
August Featured Image: A buoy from the CSULB SharkLab, housing equipment to detect acoustic pings from nearby tagged marine animals, floats offshore at Santa Claus Beach in Carpinteria, CA.