Toxic algae blooms, or red tides, caused by the species Alexandrium catenella could last longer. That means more risk to humans of poisoning from contaminated shellfish, according to researchers at the NOAA and the University of Washington.
"Changes in the harmful algal bloom season appear to be imminent and we expect a significant increase in Puget Sound and similar at-risk environments within 30 years, possibly by the next decade," said Stephanie Moore of NOAA in a news release by that organization.
"Our projections indicate that by the end of the 21st century, blooms may begin up to two months earlier in the year and persist for one month later compared to the present-day time period of July to October," Moore said.
Saxitoxin, a poison released by the red tide, accumulates in shellfish. If a person eats contaminated shellfish, they could suffer vomiting, muscle paralysis, and even death.
Iron Dust Fuels Ocean Bacteria Growth
A more of the world dries out and deserts expand, wind may pick up more dust into the atmosphere. Iron in that dust may fuel the growth of harmful bacteria in the ocean.
Researchers at the University of Georgia presented evidence that increased amounts of dust from West Africa blowing into the oceans fuels a population boom in Vibrio bacteria, a group of bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis and infectious disease in people.
"Within 24 hours of mixing weathered desert dust from Morocco with seawater samples, we saw a 10-1000-fold growth in Vibrios, including one strain that could cause eye, ear, and open wound infections, and another strain that could cause cholera," said Erin Lipp of the University of Georgia in a NOAA news release.
"Our next round of experiments will examine the response of the strains associated with seafood-related infections," Lipp said.