Predicting algae blooms in time to help coast economy

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
1010_ATS15
Morgaine McKibben collects samples off the Coast to help MOCHA's algae research. // PHOTO COURTESY OF COAS

A statewide research group is developing a way to forecast harmful algae blooms to help mitigate the negative economic impact that beach closures have on Oregon’s coastal communities.

MOCHA (Monitoring Oregon’s Coastal Harmful Algae) is comprised of university and government agency researchers who have been  studying the blooms since 2007. The blooms happen when marine algae populations explode and produce toxins that infect shellfish. The blooms then force communities to close their beaches to shellfish harvesting. Razor clams are especially monitored because even weeks after feeding they can retain the toxins, which can cause paralysis and in some cases death in humans.

A yearlong closure to razor clamming in 2003 cost Clatsop County businesses $4.8 million in revenue. “The peak season is around April to June,” says MOCHA team member Matt Hunter of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Avid bivalve hunters make hotel reservations months in advance for that time period and then abruptly cancel when a closure is announced. This keeps the lodging industry from being able to fill those rooms on short notices. By getting an early bloom alert, and thus a possible beach closure, lodging businesses would have time to fill those cancellations.

Blooms also have negative repercussions for commercial razor clam distributors. It takes about a week to determine whether clams are tainted, says Alex Manderson of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “The harvester gets paid regardless,” says Hunter. “If the clams turn out to be bad, you have to use them for bait or just discard them.” According to Jon Hartill, co-owner of seafood store Bell Buoy of Seaside, the 2003 closure cost him upward of $60,000 because he had already paid harvesters for the clams and they could not be sold to consumers. Earlier notice of a bloom would have helped prevent this.

“The incidence of [blooms] has increased worldwide. We’re the first monitoring program to determine the frequency along the Oregon coast,” says MOCHA team member Angel White of Oregon State University. The application of MOCHA’s forecasting model currently is limited. “It’s like a weather forecast: We can tell what it’s going to be like today. We want to be able to do monthly forecasts,” Hunter says.

“We’re in data-crunching mode,” White says.

PETER BELAND

 

More Articles

Courtside

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Power lunching at the Court Street Dairy Lunch in Salem.


Read more...

Bike Chic: 7 stylish options for cyclists

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.


Read more...

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

Knight Cancer Challenge No Biotech Dream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The Knight challenge is an important instance of philanthropy. But we should not assume it will magically transform OHSU into a business- and job-spinning engine for the local economy.


Read more...

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

The Health Guru

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Mohan Nair channels a visionary.


Read more...

Fighting Fire With Fire

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY BEN DEJARNETTE | INVESTIGATEWEST

Timber companies and environmental groups take a stab at collaboration to boost logging and restoration in Oregon fires.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS