Alexandrium algae, saxitoxin, and clams: Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea 2018–2019

Alexandrium algae, saxitoxin, and clams: Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea 2018–2019

Collaboration of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), North Slope Borough Wildlife Department, Alaska Sea Grant—Gay Sheffield, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Alaska HAB Network, and Alaska Ocean Observing System

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Description

Scientists have detected toxic algae in clams from the Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea regions of northern and western Alaska.

It’s an indication that ocean warming is moving northward, allowing the growth of Alexandrium catenella, a type of algae that can produce saxitoxin. If ingested, saxitoxin targets the nervous system and blocks nerve function. It can cause potentially deadly paralytic shellfish poisoning, a risk to people harvesting and consuming shellfish in affected locations.

The bulletin comes from a collaboration of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), North Slope Borough Wildlife Department, Alaska Sea Grant, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Alaska HAB Network, and Alaska Ocean Observing System.

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