Remember how we told you that climate change is killing everything you love? If you live on the West Coast, chances are you love your seafood — especially when you can dig it out of the sand yourself. But a recent bloom of toxic algae — thanks to unusually warm ocean conditions — is clobbering the West Coast, making all those razor clams and Dungeness crab and, yes, even sardines, a lot less edible. I’m sorry to say: Welcome back to Spoiler Alerts, your source for the (heart)breaking news on what climate change is fucking up this week.
Here’s the sad, fishy scoop from Quartz:
The algae in the bloom, named Pseudo-nitzschia, produce domoic acid, a neurotoxin, which was originally detected in California’s Monterey Bay in early May. By the end of the month it had reached “some of the highest concentrations… ever observed” in that area, according to UC Santa Cruz. Similar assessments are being made off the coast in Oregon, according to Michael Milstein of the NOAA Fisheries …
Fish like sardines and anchovies eat the algae and the nearby plankton, accumulating the toxin in their bodies. Kudela says researchers are still sorting through the data, but have measured toxicity in shellfish as high as 95 parts per million (ppm), and in anchovies from approximately 100 to 400 ppm. The legal limits are 20 ppm for both. The fish can then pass those toxins up the food chain to the birds and sea lions that eat them, causing neurological problems.