(Monday photo courtesy GW)
The state Ecology Department is talking today about the reddish “bloom” seen in some Puget Sound waters, including ours (here’s yesterday’s WSB report/photos). From their news release (we’ve added an aerial photo they posted to Flickr):
Scientists from the Department of Ecology’s marine monitoring program in a routine overflight of Puget Sound have spotted an extensive reddish bloom in Puget Sound that they suspect is harmless.
The bloom extends from Kingston to Des Moines, and across the Central Basin from Seattle to Bainbridge Island.
Today, they collected water samples they predict will confirm that the bloom is Noctiluca (pronounced “nock-ti-lukah”), a harmless single-celled micro-organism that bioluminesces and occurs normally at this time of year. This kind of plankton does not photosynthesize, but gets its red color from the phytoplankton it eats, a type of nutrition called heterotrophy.
This type of bloom shows up as large, red-brown, even orange “tomato-soup-like” streaks along current and tidal convergence lines, according to Dr. Christopher Krembs of Ecology’s marine monitoring program.
Krembs said the bloom is also accumulating along shores and beaches.
“We are reasonably certain this is Noctiluca, so there is no public health threat,” Krembs said. “As the sun warms the water, the water stratifies, holding the tiny plankton near the surface where they flourish.” …