May 22, 2009

cyanobacteria is burning


A nasty sea weed,  Lyngbya majuscula is thriving from Tampa Bay to Sidney.

It’s not a weed – though it’s known as fireweed; it’s actually a “a benthic filamentous marine cyanobacterium” (National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology) that grows on seagrass, and it does very well in low-oxygen environments, ripe for a bloom when there are not so many fish to stave its spread.

Its effects are toxic to humans- (itchy rashes, painful boils, and respiratory problems on exposure)

It is also known as Mermaids Hair.

When Lyngbya grows in sufficient mass it will detach from the substrate, seagrass beds and other areas where it typically grows and form floating ‘rafts’ which are then moved by prevailing winds and currents in the bay and eventually onto foreshores. (Redlands, Australia)

A raft of Lynbya Majuscula
A raft of Lyngbya majuscula

LA Times’ environmental reporting is very good, but very apocalyptic. I didn’t say “hyperbole.”
July 2006 LA Times “A Primeval Tide of Toxins”