Red tide update

AUGUSTA — Scientists with the Maine Department of Marine Resources noticed a significant offshore bloom of Alexandrium, the phytoplankton responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning, in the last few weeks.

The early warning was based primarily on the daily monitoring reports from the Woods Hole Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) moored off Frenchman Bay that is tracking Alexandrium cell density for the month of July. This was further confirmed by increasing toxicity in offshore quahog samples.

Due to wind direction predictions (E-NE), it is likely the bloom will move inshore to shellfish harvest areas. If this occurs, eastern Maine is likely to experience closures of some mussel harvest exception areas, quahog fishing areas and soft-shell clam harvest areas in the coming days and weeks. Also, because there are indications that the coastal currents are not turning offshore east of Penobscot Bay as is typical in summer, there is potential that the bloom impacting eastern Maine may also impact western Maine coastal areas, including Casco Bay, in the next two weeks as well.

The DMR encourages shellfish harvesters to be aware of biotoxin closures and updates throughout the coming weeks in both eastern and western Maine. These can be viewed on the department’s website and are also available through the Shellfish Hotline, 800-232-4733.


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