Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Red Tide - Marea Roja

Red Tide or Marea Roja (called locally) is here in Melaque and the Costalegre. The ocean smells terrible within a couple of blocks. Not sure what the fishermen are doing but it is advised not to eat any seafood for the duration. I thought it had to do with warm water but the ocean is cold here now - and Red Tide is common as far north as Canada.

"Red Tide" is a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom, an event in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column, or "bloom". These algae, more correctly termed phytoplankton, are microscopic, single-celled protists, plant-like organisms that can form dense, visible patches near the water's surface. Certain species of phytoplankton contain photosynthetic pigments that vary in color from green to brown to red, and when the algae are present in high concentrations, the water appears to be discolored or murky, varying in color from white to almost black, normally being red or brown. Not all algal blooms are dense enough to cause water discoloration, and not all discolored waters associated with algal blooms are red. Additionally, red tides are not typically associated with tidal movement of water, hence the preference among scientists to use the term algal bloom.

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