Tox Town - Algae Flowers

What are algae flowers?

Seaweed are small rootless plants that grow in water and are an important part of the marine food web. Most algae species are harmless. Algae flowers are harmful when they come from toxic species that grow quickly and form clusters that give a reddish or brown color to the sea. Sometimes they are called "red tide" or "brown tide."

Seaweed flowers can block the sunlight needed by other marine microorganisms. When they are extremely large they can deplete oxygen in the bed of lakes, estuaries and coastal environments. They can cause damage to the fishing industry, the quality of coastal terrain and the local economy.

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Some species of algae can produce toxins that are harmful to marine life, fish, other animals and being human and even get to cause death. Consumers of seafood contaminated with algae flowers may experience intoxication, sometimes very serious, and respiratory conditions. Local health departments issue warnings when noxious algae blooms occur. Follow the advice they give about coastal and water activities and seafood safety.

This description is based on the information found in the virtual links quoted in the English version of this topic.

Virtual links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)