Chapter 10

Red Tides and Whatever Happened to the Red Squirrel?

10.1 Background

On a day in late spring one begins to notice patches of discolored water in the bay, dark brown like mud. A few days later the patches have spread, and after several more weeks tangled masses of seaweed litter the beaches, and the bay fishermen complain about the poor harvest of shellfish. Elsewhere, large patches of red appear off the coast, further out at sea, and thousands of dead fish pile up on the coastline.

This may appear to be the opening scene of a sci-fi movie, but in fact it is a commonplace occurrence worldwide, year after year. The red, brown, and green splotches are dense accumulations of microscopic algae that in one way or other are toxic to the marine ...

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