Raising awareness about algal toxins in the Bering Strait region

algal bloom
Satellite image of Bering Sea algal bloom. Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE.

Health care professionals and the public attended a two-day workshop in Nome last July to learn about the growing threat from algal toxins.

More than 40 people participated in the workshop, which was jointly sponsored by the Alaska Ocean Observing System, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, NOAA, and Alaska Sea Grant.

The first day of the workshop aimed toward the general public and community of the Bering Strait region. Nine presenters covered the basics of algal toxins; changing environmental conditions in the Bering Strait; algal toxins and their effects on humans and marine resources such as shellfish, seabirds, and marine mammals; and how the Bering Strait and western Alaska are responding to algal toxins showing up in marine life.

Two group discussions focused on public health and harmful algal bloom response and communication.

During the second day of the workshop,  healthcare professionals and others learned about human health risks from algal toxins and appropriate medical responses to paralytic shellfish poisoning and botulism.