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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

2/25/10

REPORT: RED TIDE COMING BACK THIS SPRING

MAINE PUBLIC BROADCASTING - A large bloom of toxic "red tide" is likely in the Gulf of Maine this spring, posing a potential threat to New England's shellfish industry. That's according to federal scientists who have been surveying the region's seafloor for signs of the Alexandrium fundyense, an organism that causes the toxic algal blooms.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration survey found that the number of seed-like cysts of the organism was 60 percent higher than the level observed before the historic bloom of 2005, indicting a large bloom this spring.

While exposure to red tide in the water doesn't directly threaten humans, people can be sickened -- sometimes fatally -- by eating clams, mussels and other filter-feeding organisms contaminated with Alexandrium fundyense. In Maine, shellfish beds are monitored by the state, and closed when toxin concentrations rise above certain levels.

In 2005, a massive red tide bloom shut down shellfish beds from Maine to Martha's Vineyard for several months, resulting in millions in losses to the region's shellfish industry.

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