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The first report of phytoplankton, Karenia mikimotoi, in Alaska

December 2, 2013

Below is a message from KBRR Marine Specialist, Catie Bursch, regarding a recent bloom of a previously unknown phytoplankton species in Kachemak Bay. KBRR would like to extend a HUGE thanks to everyone who assisted in identifying this dinoflagellate; from local Kachemak Bay monitors to dinoflagellate experts in  Peru, Maryland, and both Charleston and Beaufort, North Carolina!

Starting in late September 2013, there was a massive bloom of a previously unknown phytoplankton species covering Kachemak Bay which turned much of the surface water a dark brown.  The Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, with assistance from community plankton monitoring volunteers, collected filtered water samples to identify the species.  Since it was not a phytoplankton species seen before in Kachemak Bay, genetic techniques were needed for identification.  Water samples were sent to NOAA scientists at the Beaufort Laboratory, NC where DNA was extracted from the preserved samples and analyzed using specialized sequencing method to produce a unique genetic signature.  The species was identified as Karenia mikimotoi. This is the first time a large bloom of this species was reported from Alaska, though it is common in many other regions of the world. This species is not toxic to humans. Prolonged dense blooms of Karenia mikimotoi in other regions of the world are frequently, but not always, associated with fish kills and the death of invertebrate species.  Click on the following links for a more detailed here and further information about this species.


One Comment leave one →
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