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NOAA News Releases 2004
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded a $153,388 grant to the University of Washington in Seattle and Tacoma, to fund research into how red tides are initiated in northwest coastal waters. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The grant is from the Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Bloom program, managed by NOAA Ocean Service. The research will focus on distribution and germination of Alexandrium resting cysts in Puget Sound, which causes toxic build up in certain shellfish. This will allow local resource managers to better understand environmental factors affecting its growth. Alexandrium causes paralytic shellfish poisoning in northwest U.S. coastal waters, a potentially fatal neurological disorder that can result when humans consume shellfish that have accumulated toxins while feeding on Alexandrium dinoflagellates.

“Harmful algal blooms pose a serious threat to human health and have an enormous economic impact on the fishing industry. Any research we can do to better detect and understand the conditions that cause blooms will result in significant benefits to public safety and prevent millions in lost wages,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA and its partners in state governments and academia are working to improve the understanding of our environment and to strengthen local initiatives like those run by the University of Washington.”

The research is expected to help focus state and local monitoring efforts and lead to improved algal bloom forecasts. ECOHAB seeks to produce new ways to detect the onset of harmful algal blooms and their toxins, and to understand the causes and dynamics. ECOHAB is also working to develop forecasts of harmful algal bloom growth, transport and toxicity to lessen impacts on humans.

Each year NOAA Ocean Service 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.

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. To learn more about NOAA, please visit

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