Have you heard of “The Blob” that has been invading coastal areas in the Pacific Ocean? The Blob is what scientists are calling areas of water in the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska and off the coast of California that have been running 3 to 5 degrees above normal. This water is affecting weather patterns in the United States and marine life around the globe. And it could also be causing another problem in the Pacific: algae.
Huge, toxic algae blooms have appeared in coastal areas of the Pacific recently, stretching from Southern California to Alaska.
The green goop contains tiny marine plants that contain some toxic species that can devastate marine life and the fisheries. In fact, there have been reports of dead whales, birds and fish in Alaska that some have connected to the algae.
The algae has also led to closures of clam harvests and crab fisheries in Washington and Oregon in recent months. The algae take a lot of oxygen out of the water, leaving less oxygen for the fish. Many of them are dying in places like the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. This results in a huge hit to the ecosystem; larger animals that would normally feed on the fish are left starving.
The Pacific isn’t the only area that’s been hit by these toxic algae. The algae blooms are also contaminating freshwater lakes and the drinking supply for many communities around the Great Lakes. Fish, birds and mammals have died after drinking these toxins, and there are reports of it also making people sick.
Toledo, Ohio, has spent $3 million a year to try and fight the algae toxins that show up in Lake Erie. The EPA has been working hard to try and keep the toxins out of the drinking water as well, but it’s expensive – and many water treatment plants near the Great Lakes were built before World War II.