Fertilization and red tides have been correlated through many studies going back a decade. Excess fertilizer is lost in runoff, which enter the waterways into the ocean. The nutrient rich water creates the perfect environment for HABs which have the potential to exhaust the nutrients and deplete the oxygen levels of the surrounding water. The lack of oxygenated water and toxins released by HABs create "dead zones" in the coastal marine environment.
McGill University researchers have documented a dramatic increase in the spread of cyanobacteria in ponds and lakes across Europe and North America. Commonly referred to as blue-green algae, the bacteria poses a threat to drinking water; certain species release toxins into their freshwater habitat. The researchers believe the increase in the cyanobacteria is caused by fertilizer runoff from local agriculture. The threat posed by this fresh water toxins is more serious than the salt water because HAB contaminations are more readily contained through warnings and recalls, while contaminated drinking water is a more complex issue to deal with.
Posted by Daniel Bonkowski (Group A)