Jul 23, 2019 | Updated: 09:13 AM EDT

Study Says: Now it's Possible To Predict The Red Tide, It's Not Random

Mar 14, 2017 06:03 PM EDT

Bondi Beach's algae bloom turned the water BLOOD RED!
(Photo : schafflergraben/Youtube) SEVERAL popular Sydney beaches, including the iconic Bondi, resembled scenes out of a apocalyptic film today after an algae bloom turned the water blood red. Patches of the red algae, a natural phenomenon that can be exacerbated by certain weather conditions, were sighted between Bondi Beach and Maroubra Beach.
But despite the warnings a number of intrepid beachgoers were seen venturing into the water.
The natural phenomenon is caused when algae, a plant-like organism flourishes and large groups of the miniscule plants, which can appear in various colours, gather together often with spectacular results. Known as Nocturnal Scintillans or sea sparkle it has no toxic effects but people are still advised to avoid swimming in areas with discoloured water because the algae, which can be high in ammonia, can cause skin irritation.
British tourists were among large groups of visitors who were told by lifeguards not to enter the water until the all-clear was given because the algae can irritate the skin and cause other health problems.

Sometimes sea water gets intoxicated by the propagation of a certain type of algae. It turns the water into a brownish red. The wave of red water in beaches is termed as “Red tide”. Since a long time, it’s seeking the attention of ecologists for both good and bad reason.

At the night time in southern California, the red tide causes nighttime light shows. But, in the coastal areas of Florida and in the Great Lakes red tide is just a nightmare for sea creatures. It can cause fish die-offs and shellfish poisoning even it can damage the health of humans and other sea mammals if they consume those intoxicated fishes.

Scientists have finally found what causes the red tides to form in coastal areas. A group of researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego led by Dr. George Sugihara uncovered the mystery by using a novel technique. Their findings were first published in the journal of Ecological Society of America.

A student from Scripps Institution analyzed the pigment of algae which is known as Chlorophylla. He also examined nutrient concentrations and various physical aspects of the ocean. Those ecological data were compared with Sugihara's equation-free models that are also known as Empirical Dynamic Modeling (EDM). Researchers found some patterns from those models that could help them to predict future red tides.

Those patterns suggest that the red tides are not purely random. As per the report by Science Daily, conventional ecological modeling methods are not enough to predict harmful algal blooms but, new models would give better opportunities.

Lead researcher of the study and Professor of Natural Science, Dr. Sugihara said in his report,“Red tides were a mystery for so many years because we were looking at the ecosystem as if it was in equilibrium and unchanging and therefore could be studied a piece at a time”.

Sugihara and his team tallied 30 years of field archived data to identify the mechanisms that cause red tides. He also explained that it was a mystery for a long time because they were looking at it the wrong way. Sugihara and his team think that they can predict the blooming time of algae as part of an early-warning system for future red tide events.

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