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Toxic Algae Bloom off Washington
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Toxic Algae Bloom off Washington

October 3, 2004
Scientists from the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report that a toxic bloom of algae has appeared in the eastern Pacific, located about 24 km (15 miles) off the northwest coast of Washington. Situated in the region known as the Juan de Fuca eddy, the bloom spans a large area roughly 48 km (30 miles) across. Scientists report finding concentrations of pseudo-nitzschia as high as 11 million cells per liter of sea water. Such a bloom is considered unusually intense and potentially lethal for humans. Even 200 cells per liter is considered dangerous. Pseudo-nitzschia can release domoic acid, which has been found to accumulate in the tissue of shellfish. If ingested by humans, domoic acid will attack tissue in the brain that humans use for memory and learning. There is some concern that if a major storm passes through it could push the bloom eastward into near-shore waters. Officials in Washington are closely monitoring the sit