JANUARY 2011: My Surface Interval named one of the best scuba diving blogs

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Algae bloom discovered in English Channel

LOOKS like the viz is going to be shot on the south coast for the time being after Plymouth Marine Laboratory scientists have detected two large algal blooms; one off the coast of Ireland and the other closer to home covering an area from the Lizard, in Cornwall, to Salcombe, in Devon.

The unusual bloom, which is likely to discolour the sea, consists of vast numbers of a harmless microscopic plant called Skeletonema, that all but disappeared from Plymouth Sound for many years and poses no threat.

Skeletonema is a beautiful microscopic plant that given the right conditions reproduces rapidly to cover large areas of coastal seas”, says PML’s Earth Observation scientist, Dr Peter Miller.

“Over the winter nutrients have built up in the sea and the windy weather we have experienced recently has stirred them up to the surface. Combined with the now calmer conditions and bright sunny days everything slotted into place to enable this plant to reproduce and form a large bloom.”

Claire Widdicombe, a plankton ecologist also at PML added: “What is interesting is the timing of the bloom,we would normally expect the spring bloom to be a few weeks later than this, although there is some variation and it all depends on being in the right place at the right time. A further point of interest is that this species all but disappeared from Plymouth Sound for many years and its early appearance this year is all the more unusual."

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