Red-orange material south of Half Moon Bay determined to be algae bloom

SAN FRANCISCO – A red-orange substance was reported in the water approximately 11 miles south of Half Moon Bay Friday afternoon and was determined to be an algal bloom by visual inspection.

The organic material was reported to be in long ribbon-like strings by an overflying pilot.

The Coast Guard Cutter Barracuda, an 87-foot patrol boat, arrived on scene and took samples of the organic material. A California Department of Fish and Game Marine Warden was on board the Barracuda when the samples were taken.

California Department of Fish and Game officials determined that the red-orange substance was the result of decaying organic matter from an algal bloom. This is a seasonal event that commonly occurs in fall. An upwelling of cool, nutrient-rich water creates ideal conditions for algal blooms. When followed by warm, calm waters, the algae breaks down into a red-orange substance, sometimes mistaken for non-organic substances such as dye markers or oil.

The samples will be taken to the University of California, Santa Cruz tomorrow to confirm it is a algal bloom and determine the specific type of algae.

To report all oil and chemical discharges into the water, contact the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. The National Response Center is national point of contact for all oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological discharges into the environment anywhere in the United States. You can also make reports on line at www.nrc.uscg.mil.

The California Department of Fish and Game Marine Region manages and protects fish and the marine environment. More information on the California Department of Fish and Game Marine Region can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/.

algal bloom

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. -- A red algal bloom looms near the Coast Guard Cutter Barracuda approximately 11 miles south of Half Moon Bay, Sept. 17, 2010. California Department of Fish and Game officials determined that the red-orange substance was the result of decaying organic matter from an algal bloom. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

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