From March 30 to May 31, 2020, beachgoers noticed record-breaking counts of Lingulodinium polyedra (L. polyedra), a species of phytoplankton that created a red tide along the Baja and California coasts from Ensenada to Ventura. During the day, a thick brown-red plume could be seen at beaches and bays across the region. At night, the plume would turn into a bioluminescent show with bright blue glowing waves and shore break.
While L. polyedra is considered less toxic than some other red tide culprits, anecdotal reports suggest it may impact respiratory health and trigger skin rashes. With this in mind, the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) and researchers at UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography are collaborating with the Surfrider Foundation to collect community anecdotal information and data for inclusion in future publications and bulletins on symptoms experienced after exposure to an L. polyedra bloom.
Creators of the bilingual survey are asking people who visited the beach during this last red tide to complete a short questionnaire. The survey is anonymous, but for those interested in having researchers follow up, an option to provide contact information is provided.
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network. Improving coastal water quality has been one of the Surfrider Foundation’s top priorities over the last 30 years. Surfrider’s Clean Water Initiative works to protect our coastal waterways, communities, and wildlife from water pollution.
The Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) is one of eleven regions that contributes to the national U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®). The regional observing systems work to collect, integrate, and deliver coastal and ocean observations in order to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect the environment.