There is currently no evidence of harm from the recent algal blooms in local waters, said a report by the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force.
Virginia Institute of Marine Science professor Kim Reece said she and other team members track the appearance of algal blooms within Virginia waters to determine whether the bloom organisms pose a threat to marine life or human health.
Reece said that samples from recent blooms, first observed in early to mid-July, show that they comprise dense aggregations of Cochlodinium polykrikoides, a single-celled marine dinoflagellate. Those samples were taken in the York River near the VIMS campus at Gloucester Point.
“Blooms of this and closely related species may harm oyster larvae and other marine life, and are associated with fish kills and economic loss in Japan and Korea,” Reece said, but the research team has had no reports of any of these effects in local waters this year.
Reece said fish and crab kills reported in the Chesapeake Bay region during Cochlodinium blooms in previous years are likely due to low levels of dissolved oxygen, which are associated with blooms of many different species and occur when the algal cells die, sink and decay.