Don Anderson and colleagues were recently funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through a competitive research program to improve the nation’s collective response to the growing problem of harmful algal blooms (HABs). This five-year research program will investigate the prevalence of HAB toxins in Alaskan marine food webs, and will model their movement and impacts on human and natural ecosystems. View the full press release here.
On February 19, 2020, Don Anderson spoke at a congressional briefing entitled “Controlling Harmful Algal Blooms”, co-hosted by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and U.S. Congressman Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania). This briefing focused on the challenges of controlling HABs, a highly diverse and complex phenomena, and ways of evaluating different mitigation and control strategies currently in development. Additional featured speakers were Peter Moeller from NCCOS, Kathryn Coyne from the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware, and Steve Thur from NCCOS.
A news story was aired on KNOM radio on December 20, 2019 about research findings on algal toxins in the Arctic/subarctic and potential impacts for marine mammals and wildlife health in collaboration with Don Anderson (WHOI) and the HEALY cruise that took place in the summer of 2019 with Bob Pickart (WHOI), Janet Duffy-Anderson (NOAA/AFSC), Jackie Grebmeier (UM), and Research Assistants Evie Fachon and Victoria Uva.
Click here for a link to the story.
“Everything You Need to Know about Toxic Algae Blooms” featured an interview with Don Anderson. The story, published in the Los Angeles Times on August 14, 2019, focused on toxic blooms of cyanobacteria and algae and the harmful effects associated with human and animal exposure. In oceans and freshwater lakes and streams, harmful algal blooms are becoming more frequent, driven in part by higher water temperatures. “We’re seeing that these problem organisms are changing the ranges in which they occur because of climate,” Anderson said. Here is a link to the story: https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-08-14/everything-you-need-to-know-about-toxic-algae-blooms
Evie Fachon was recently highlighted by PolarTREC, an educational research program for teachers. Evie and Victoria Uva are currently participating in a research cruise in the Arctic aboard the USCGC Healy. The objectives of this research are to investigate the distribution, prevalence, and geographic extent of HABs in Arctic waters, with an emphasis on the dinoflagellate Alexandrium catenella and diatoms in the genus Pseudo-nitzschia. Read the PolarTREC journal entry here, and learn more about our Arctic program here.
Don Anderson, PhD was interviewed by Barbara Moran at WBUR about summer 2019 toxic algae blooms in Massachusetts in the Charles River basin, sites on Cape Cod, and other areas in Massachusetts for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” The program “Summertime, And Toxic Algae is Blooming: Here’s What You Need to Know” aired on WBUR on July 26, 2019, one day after the Department of Public Health posted alerts for 8 freshwater locations for cyanobacteria blooms in Massachusetts. The full story can be found at this link: https://www.wbur.org/earthwhile/2019/07/26/toxic-algae-cyanobacteria-charles-river
The Anderson Lab is launching a new project in response to this year’s record red tide events in Florida. In August, a state of emergency was declared due to a massive coastal bloom of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. This event is responsible for creating widespread fish kills, causing respiratory distress in coastal inhabitants and visitors, and costing millions of dollars in economic loss for Florida communities.
We will test a clay flocculation technique widely used in China and Korea to mitigate red tide events. This method involves dispersing clay in the water which adheres to the toxic algae and inhibits swimming capabilities, effectively causing it to fall from the water column. Testing will be conducted in the laboratory and in a pilot-scale field study, with the goal of determining effectiveness and monitoring environmental impacts. Any expansion of the program to larger areas in Florida would only occur once data are collected and analyzed from these small control applications. Learn more here.
The Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health (WHCOHH) was granted five more years of funding by the NSF and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. This funding will be used to continue interdisciplinary work understanding the relationship of harmful algal blooms and marine pathogens to public health. Learn more about this award from the WHOI press release, and more about the Anderson Lab’s involvement at the WHCOHH website.
On August 28, Don testified for the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. The hearing, entitled “Harmful Algal Blooms: The Impact on Our Nation’s Waters” brought together experts, stakeholders and policymakers in the capital to discuss HAB events across the country. Other witnesses at the hearing included Bryan Stubbs of the Cleveland Water Alliance, Ivory Engstrom, Director of Special Projects at McLane Research Labs, and Patrick Neu of the National Professional Anglers Association. The meeting was chaired by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), whose home state of Alaska has dealt with multiple HAB outbreaks of increasing severity in recent years. Don discussed the drivers of harmful algal blooms in various parts of the country and stressed the need for national monitoring and mitigation strategies. The archived webcast, as well as to Don’s written testimony, can be found here.