Sunday, March 20, 2016

Weekend Walkabout: They're All Dying....

Y'all know how much I love my sand dune and all the creatures that live on it, and in the ocean, and the river. (I live between the Atlantic Ocean and a large estuary, which we call a river.) This weekend I have had a heartbreaking walkabout. The river is dying.
Brown and red tides are becoming more common here. But they usually only last a short time, in one spot. The critters can vacate that spot and carry on. Not this time. The guess is that this Brown Tide is caused by Aureoumbra lagunensis. Each cell is tiny, yet they are legion. They suffocate everything in their world, and they eat arsenic, then secrete arsenite, a potent toxin. They also gunk up the gills and blowholes of marine creatures, thus suffocating them. They suck the oxygen out of the water.
This toxic algae hasn't been studied much, though there are a few researchers on the job in Texas. We're coughing and hacking a fair bit here, but that's nothing compared to the creatures that are stuck in the water:
Neighbors have noted manatees in distress, with gunked up faces, and dolphins, too. I'll report further as I know more. Have any of you had Brown Tide in your neighborhood? It really sucks.


  1. OH NO!
    So sorry to hear about this.
    As far as I know, no brown tide here...

  2. It's horrible, and I'll post more as we learn more about what is happening. Some of us are documenting the disaster, and also the health effects on humans and companion animals who live near the river. State biologists are trying to figure out what organisms are responsible, and what caused it.