Oregon, California and Washington have delayed commercial crab fishing this season, as high levels of domoic acid (DA, a potent neurotoxin) are still present in crustaceans in the area. The toxin is the result of a massive bloom of the planktonic algae pseudo-nitzschia, which was fed by a large section of warm water in the area this summer.
"The 'big blob' or 'warm blob' is a large area of unusually warm water over a large part of the Northeast Pacific Ocean," said Nick Wiltgen, Senior Digital Meteorologist at weather.com. "It started in earnest during the spring and summer of 2013 (some 2 1/2 years ago) near the Gulf of Alaska and has expanded to cover most of the north-eastern Pacific Ocean since 2014. Several hypotheses have been offered on why the blob has formed and persisted. It could be that persistent but ultimately 'chance' weather patterns are responsible, but it's also possible that some yet-undiscovered cyclical pattern or mechanism at work."
While the algae levels themselves have diminished, experts are not sure as to how long the toxin will persist in the crab population.
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