Will be reporting on the waters off the Olympic Peninsula.
A new NOAA-sponsored University of Washington project brings together academic, federal, state and tribal scientists to develop forecasts for toxic harmful algal blooms in the Pacific Northwest, like the massive bloom that closed Pacific Northwest beaches to shellfish harvesting in summer 2015.
A UW-developed model simulates how toxic organisms at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (red dots) can travel toward the Washington coast.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in August has awarded a five-year, $1.3 million grant to start working on the forecasts. The new early warning system will transition to operation starting in 2017.
Once up and running, the forecasts will help coastal communities from Neah Bay, Washington, to Newport, Oregon, target their shellfish monitoring and fine-tune decisions about closing beaches to shellfish harvesting to have more advance warning and potentially avoid some beach closures.
Forecasts will be produced by the UW’s LiveOcean model, which creates three-day forecasts for Washington and Oregon coastal waters. The model provides results for open-ocean beaches as well as complex protected waterways — including Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor — that are home to many of the region’s shellfish beds.
Up-to-date monitoring of offshore conditions will be provided by Vera Trainer, a biologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and members of the Makah Tribe. Starting this spring, they will collect samples by ship every two weeks in an eddy near the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which has been identified as a source of toxin-producing algae that can reach local beaches. The team will then analyze water samples within a day at the Makah Tribal lab in Neah Bay.
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