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A beautiful yet harmful algal bloom in local waters

For the first time in three years, Alexandrium monilatum, a harmful algal bloom, has been spotted in the York River and Mobjack Bay.

Harmful algal blooms Margalefidinium polykrikoides and A. monilatum, nicknamed Marge and Alex, respectively, have both been reported this year.

According to Dr. Kim Reece, chair of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s Aquatic Health Sciences Department, the Marge bloom was first detected around Aug. 10 but was not a very intense bloom. The Alex bloom was detected weeks later and began ramping up the weekend of Aug. 28 and became a very intense and dense bloom. Bioluminescence has been observed in the York River this year, attributed to the Alex bloom.

Alex produces compounds that can be toxic and harmful to aquatic life, according to Reece. In the past people have even reported some harm to oysters and other aquatic life caused by the bloom. Large dense blooms dying off can result in oxygen deprivation in the water. VIMS is studying Alex’s...

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