The Effect Of Algae On Marine Ecosystems Essay

The Effect Of Algae On Marine Ecosystems Essay

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Fresh and saltwater are both dependent upon algae for both oxygen production and the fact that algae offer a source of sustenance for many zooplankton and small species of fish. However, there are many types of algae that are detrimental to marine ecosystems. Especially when an algal bloom occurs, or when algae reproduce extremely fast. An algal bloom can exhaust oxygen stores and obstruct the sunlight needed by other organisms to stay alive. Certain forms of algal blooms may generate dangerous toxins in the waters in which they live. One type of algae that produces harmful toxins is blue green algae. These archaic, microscopic organisms are referred to as cyanobacteria, as they are a type of bacteria. (WHO, water-related diseases, 2014). Cyanobacteria may be present in any body of water such as lakes, ponds, creeks, or even oceans. Often, the bacteria are more prevalent in slow moving, warm waters and are most frequently observed during the late summer and early fall seasons. The algae may or may not be apparent on top of the water. If it is perceptible, it appears like foam or scum in a blue, green, red, or brown color. As the blue green algae blooms expire the water can have a rotten-egg like smell. (EPA, Climate Changes and Harmful Algal Blooms (n.d.).
Many blue green algae bacteria are poisonous to humans, other mammals, birds, and fish. Contact with these toxic bacteria can cause a multitude of symptoms in humans. Depending on the nature of the exposure, different symptoms may result. For instance, contact with the bacteria topically via the skin can produce rashes, hives, or skin blisters. Toxins that have been inhaled can cause respiratory, allergic, or asthma symptoms including cough and sore throat, also headache, and r...


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...tributing factor to the increase in harmful algae blooms. Climate changes and nutrient pollution are due to excess nitrogen and phosphorus being made available via runoff into water bodies. This excess in nitrogen and phosphorus propel the growth of blue green algae at rate that the marine environment is unable to keep up with. (EPA, Climate Changes and Harmful Algal Blooms (n.d.).) Scientists are in the process of researching ways to monitor and decrease nitrogen and phosphorus levels in water. Ways to help decrease nutrient pollution include avoiding use of excess lawn fertilizer, use of phosphorus-free fertilizer, attempting to not apply fertilizer where the runoff has direct contact with storm drains, and preserving natural foliage along the shoreline as this aids in filtering water and does not require fertilizer to survive. (WHO, water-related diseases, 2014)

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