Abalone Die-Off Observed Following Red Tide in Sonoma County

A "red tide" off the coast of La Jolla, San Diego, California.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has confirmed reports of dead red abalone and sea stars inside coves along the coast in Sonoma County. The number of dead and dying abalone is not known, but reports have come from Bodega Bay, Russian Gulch, Fort Ross, Timber Cove and Salt Point State Park, beginning on August 27. DFG biologists and game wardens have collected abalone, mussels and water samples and are continuing to document reports from the public.

According to DFG biologists, these abalone deaths coincided with a local red tide bloom (or phytoplankton bloom) and calm ocean conditions. Although the exact reasons for the abalone deaths are not known, invertebrate die-offs have occurred in the past along the northern California coast when similar weather and bloom conditions existed.

Biologists are not attributing the deaths to Withering Syndrome (an abalone disease), since the abalone are not withered and other invertebrates have been affected. Withering Syndrome has been known to cause abalone mortality in the past in central and Southern California.

The abalone fishery remains open at this time. Abalone divers and pickers are reminded that they must adhere to all licensing requirements and bag limits, which can be found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mapregs3.asp#abalone_open. There is a daily limit of three abalone and a yearly limit of 24 abalone, along with season restrictions and area closures as well as other regulations for recreational abalone fishing in northern California.

Abalone fishermen are advised to contact a physician immediately if they feel sick, and to report symptoms to the local county health department (www.sonoma-county.org/health/about/publichealth.asp).

The public is encouraged to report the location, number and date of dead or dying abalone to Ian Taniguchi at (562) 342-7182 or by e-mail at itaniguchi@dfg.ca.gov. The latest red tide updates from the California Department of Public Health are also posted online at www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/Pages/DDWEM.aspx.

-from press release

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6 Responses

  1. Mike Smith says:

    Info on abalone die off . . .

  2. Blood Wine says:

    This is unnatural algae bloom is a result of fertilizer run off from Wineries in Sonoma County.

  3. AZ_friend says:

    Or is it a response to radioactivity from Fukushima? Your section of coastline has received direct hits of ocean and airborne particles. The EPA turned off the radiation monitors in many places…

  4. Michele says:

    "Although the exact reasons for the abalone deaths are not known, invertebrate die-offs have occurred in the past along the northern California coast when similar weather and bloom conditions existed."

    Beware the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy. Just because the reason for something is not known, doesn't mean we can attribute it to whatever came before it – or whatever supports our causes. I spent most of my life in marine (well, actually Navy!) towns and algae blooms/red tides are just not that unusual.

  1. September 15, 2011

    […] online at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/Pages/DDWEM.aspx.For more information, please refer to DFG’s Sept. 2 press release.-from press release A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, […]

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