PHOTOS: ‘Noctiluca Bloom’ Making Waters Off Des Moines Red

If you were anywhere near the water on Saturday, you may have noticed some rusty, reddish-colored stuff floating about – from what we gathered while we are at the Des Moines Farmers Market, this was most likely an algal bloom caused by ‘Noctiluca.’

According to the State Department of Ecology, Noctiluca is a non-toxic form of zooplankton, which feed on phytoplankton.

Noctiluca visibly aggregate at the sea surface as part of their life cycle and feeding strategy. The nontoxic Noctiluca blooms usually appear as a rusty reddish color like tomato soup and are common in Puget Sound.”

“Noctiluca is a large dinoflagellate that is named for its ability to bioluminesce–or glow–at night,” according to the Edmonds Discovery Program website.  “Although this is a red tide forming organism, Noctiluca is harmless and non-toxic and for a number of weeks in summer, it is often observed in the marine waters of the Puget Sound region.”

Experts say these “blooms” usually last 3 to 7 days, and are linked to high concentrations of their plankton food sources, as well as seasonal circulation of nutrient-rich water.

Here are some pics taken at the Marina by Scott Schaefer on Saturday, June 9 (click images to see larger versions):

Also, here’s a screenshot from a live webcam located at the Marine Science and Technology Center (MaSt) in Redondo::


One Response to “PHOTOS: ‘Noctiluca Bloom’ Making Waters Off Des Moines Red”
  1. Rus Higley says:

    Tis the season for Noctiluca to bloom and turn our water a brick red/orange mix. Noctiluca is a very interesting dinoflagellate that lives right near the surface and so when the winds are “right” it will pile up in areas like Redondo and Des Moines. It is not harmful and in fact will glow when disturbed due to being bioluminenescent. Jump in, throw rocks, and have fun with it.

    Rus Higley
    Marine Science and Technology Center
    Highline Community College
    Aquarium is open to the public every Saturday from 10-2.

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