This time, without the algal mats

This is how the area near the Moss Landing Harbor looks like now…

This is how it looked a few months ago, when there was an overabundance of algae.  Click here or on the picture below to find out what caused all this algae.


Algae Abundance

We were driving back from Phil’s Fish Market several weeks ago when I noticed the water in this area — by the Moss Landing Harbor — practically covered in algae.

The color was a beautiful bright green, but instinctively you get the feeling that something is not right or a sort of imbalance produced all this algae.

I forgot about the photos I took until I read an article in the Monterey County Herald titled “Elkhorn Slough teeters on algal mess”, by Marissa Fessenden of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, about UC Santa Cruz researchers mapping the extent of algae growth threatening Elkhorn Slough.

Graduate student Brent Hughes examines algae (green sea lettuce) from Elkhorn Slough, an indicator of high nutrient levels. Photo by Monique Fountain.

The study indicates that the growth of these thick mats are a result of excessive nutrient levels (e.g., from fertilizer runoff from agricultural fields) and limits on how much tidal water enters parts of the slough.

The combination of high nutrient levels and stagnant water in certain parts of the slough produces the right conditions for these thick mats to grow, resulting in low-oxygen conditions that can harm fish and other wildlife.

For more information, click on the picture of graduate student Brent Hughes or here to link to the University of California Santa Cruz article by Tim Stephens.