A rusty brownish-red hue of the ocean was reported recently from southern Orange County to the South Bay, a murky sight caused by algal blooms.
Sometimes, especially in recent years, a red tide has caused an exciting phenomenon that causes the waves to glow at night with bioluminescence, illuminating the whitewash as if it had been struck by an electric jolt.
But the red tide looming off the southern California coast may now be a different kind of algal bloom – and wildlife experts are worried about what it could mean for local birds.
Officials at the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach are warning swimmers and wildlife rescue teams across Southern California to keep an eye out for birds that may appear to be in distress due to potentially algal blooms. harmful.
They were first alerted by a concerned citizen on Monday, April 25, who thought ocean water outside could have meant another oil spill, said Debbie McGuire, the center’s executive director.
Tests were carried out and it was determined that the seaweed is Akashiwo sanguinea (A. sanguinea).
Clarissa Anderson, executive director of the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System, confirmed the Akashiwo bloom in Orange County as well as the South Bay, noting that her organization had also alerted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to its existence.
Reports of the thick red tide arrived from San Clemente, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and South Bay, although some nearby areas had no sign of it.
Eric Martin, chief aquarist of the Roundhouse Aquarium on the Manhattan Beach pier, said he’s seen the ocean dim and light over the past few weeks. After taking swabs on Tuesday, April 26, he confirmed it was the same species of algae that was causing the waters of South Bay to turn red.
Martin said he captured several images showing wildlife, including whales and dolphins, swimming in ‘chocolate milk’ waters, although this specific algae is not believed to impact sea creatures like she can have it on the birds.
“It’s something we’re keeping an ear out for and taking samples just in case, but it’s more likely a concern for the bird species,” Alissa Deming, vice president of conservation, of medicine and science at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, mentioned.
McGuire also warned that dogs should not ingest seawater and should be rinsed off as they come into contact with the algae.
“It’s not going to be too harmful, but we want to take it away from them,” she said.
And, although there is no formal data or research on this, red tide could cause itching or a rash in surfers or swimmers.
For birds, algae can interfere with their natural ability to repel water.
“This particular algae breaks its impermeable barrier, which is why it gets sick,” McGuire said. They may develop hypothermia. “If they’re stranded, they need help.”
If a bird or other animal spotted needs assistance, swimmers should contact local animal control or notify a nearby lifeguard.
The Wetland and Wildlife Care Center is ready to receive and care for affected birds. Rescued birds can be washed and dried by trained staff, allowing the animal’s natural waterproofing to return so they can be released back into the wild, McGuire said.
She spent Tuesday morning calling other wildlife centers and animal control authorities along the coast to let them know about the bloom. So, in case they find any birds washed up on the beach, they’ll know what they’re dealing with.
Anderson said the seaweed has been spotted from time to time along the southern California coast for the past month or so. The recent upwelling of cold water near the shore – with water temperatures falling to the low to mid-50s – could have caused a bloom.
“This species has a wide range of tolerances and is found in many parts of the world,” she said, “generally temperate though.”