Contact: Aja Sae-Kung

NOAA News Releases 2004
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


The University of Washington’s School of Oceanography is leading a study of the toxic algae responsible for amnesic shellfish poisoning in northwest coastal waters with $314,525 in grant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms program, managed by the NOAA Ocean Service’s National Center for Coastal Ocean Science, made the grant. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The grant will support ECOHAB’s third year of a five-year project to study the physiology, toxicology, ecology and oceanography of the algae, Pseudo-nitzschia, off the Pacific Northwest coast. Toxic forms of Pseudo-nitzschia have been identified as the cause of amnesic shellfish poisoning, an illness which can affect birds, marine mammals, and humans. Results of this research will ideally lead to improved capabilities to predict the onset and path of these toxic bloom events.

“Harmful algal blooms are a serious economic and public health problem all over the world, so it is imperative that we understand the environmental conditions that promote the growth of these blooms,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA and the Bush Administration are working to improve the understanding of our environment and to strengthen local and regional initiatives like those conducted by the University of Washington.”

ECOHAB seeks to produce state-of-the-art detection methodologies for HABs and their toxins, to understand the causes and dynamics of HABs, to develop forecasts of HAB growth, transport and toxicity and to predict and ameliorate impacts on higher trophic levels and humans. ECOHAB: Pacific Northwest is a collaboration of several research institutions and supported by grants from NOAA and the National Science Foundation.

Each year, NOAA’s Coastal Ocean Program awards approximately $30 million in grants to members of the academic, state and scientific communities to assist NOAA in fulfilling its mission to study our coastal oceans in order to predict environmental change, manage ocean resources, protect life and property and provide decision makers with reliable and timely scientific information. NOAA-sponsored competitive research programs such as ECOHAB demonstrate NOAA's commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for the past 34 years. Visit for more information.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Visit NOAA on-line at,

On the Web:

Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms: