Harmful Algal Blooms


Phytoplankton blooms, micro-algal blooms, toxic algae, red tides, or harmful algae, are all terms for naturally occurring phenomena. About 300 hundred species of microalgae are reported at times to form mass occurrence, so called blooms. Nearly one fourth of these species are known to produce toxins. The scientific community refers to these events with a generic term, ‘Harmful Algal Bloom’ (HAB), recognizing that, because a wide range of organisms is involved and some species have toxic effects at low cell densities, not all HABs are ‘algal’ and not all occur as ‘blooms’.

IOC’s programme on Harmful Algal Blooms fosters cooperative scientific research and effective management in order to understand their causes, predict their occurrences and mitigate their effects. Recent advances in instrumentation, communications and modelling have led to the design of prototype real-time observing systems, reflected in the implementation plan for work on the global ecology and oceanography of HABs.

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