Moss Landing scientists discover cause of Domoic acid


MOSS LANDING, Calif. - Two years later, scientists at MBARI have discovered what caused the most toxic algae bloom on record in the Monterey Bay.

Domoic acid is toxic algae that shut down the 2015-2016 commercial crab season and killed hundreds of marine animals.

In a recent study, scientists looked at ocean data over the past 25 years, they found what was normal about algae blooms and discovered that in 2015-2016, the chemical balance was flipped.

"And they're still producing toxin but they don't split it off into a daughter cell," said Biological Oceanographer John Ryan with MBARI. "Then the concentration in that original cell is higher."

Now scientists say they know exactly what to look for, which can help them predict if another toxic algae is blooming in the bay.

"So when you want to understand why something is changing right where you live, you often need to look much farther away to understand how the ocean is changing over a large scale," said Ryan. 

However, Biological Oceanographer, John Ryan said that they're still looking to see if this chemical imbalance is linked to warmer ocean temperatures. But that requires a larger scale study.

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