United States
     Environmental Protection
Administration And
Resources Management
United Nations
                          Volume 6, Number 2
                                   April 1998
     ... to CARIBBEAN CURRENTS, Volume Six, Number Two. This newsletter
     is edited by INFOTERRA/USA in its capacity as the Regional Service
     Centre (RSC) for INFOTERRA National Focal Points (NFPs) in the English
     and French-speaking Caribbean. Although the CURRENTSis assembled
     at INFOTERRA/USA, the content belongs to you, the readers.  You are
     encouraged to send in any questions, comments, problems, or interesting
     issues relevant to the Region for inclusion in the CURRENTS. Please see
     the Guidelines for Contributions on page 5 for more information.

     Each issue will feature a Directory of NFPs in the Region so that anyone
     with international environmental questions can contact their nearest
     resource. Please feel free to contact one another as well as your RSC for
     assistance or materials.

     Please don't hesitate to share CARIBBEAN CURRENTS with your friends
     and colleagues, and to make copies as needed.  The Currents should
     serve  as an informational  forum  for anyone who lives, works, or is
     involved in environmental issues in the English and French-speaking
     Caribbean Region.
                             Algae Blooms

This issue's topic is algae blooms. An algae bloom is a sudden increase in the growth of
phytoplankton causing them to accumulate into thick, visible patches near the surface of the water.
While these blooms are usually not harmful, some algal species produce neurotoxins which kill
zooplankton, fish, marine mammals and even humans.

The next issue of CARIBBEAN CURRENTS will look at recycling.  Recycling is the use of
materials, which would otherwise be discarded, to make new products.  It helps conserve raw
materials , reduce landfill waste,  and decrease hazardous waste in the waste stream.

If you have any comments on this topic, or would like to contribute a short article or have a
resources guide to share, please submit your contribution following the guidelines on page 5, as we
would like to include it in the next or a future issue of CURRENTS. Please feel free to fax, write
to, or call the RSC with any questions or comments you have. Thank you for your assistance.

                                 Harmful Algal Blooms
                       By John Heisler - U.S. EPA Office of Water

Coastal waters worldwide have experienced a dramatic increase in harmful algal blooms (HAB)
over a period that spans several decades. The blooms are considered harmful because they can be
toxic to marine life and humans, or they can occur as non-toxic forms that cause extensive
environmental change, and significant economic losses to coastal communities (Anderson et al.,
1993; Boesch et al., 1997; Burkholder, 1998). Some may find it unbelievable that a microscopic
organism (so small that thousands would fit comfortably in a single drop of water) could be
responsible for the deaths of billions offish and shellfish, but that is precisely what has happened.
Although the organisms are microscopic, when they reproduce in large numbers, they become so
concentrated that they can change the color of the water, such as in a red tide.  Recently, there have
been numerous press accounts of the harmful effects of HAB. This isn't a new problem ~ there are
recorded instances of HABs from thousands of years ago; however, over the past few decades, the
instances have spread to virtually every coastline (Burkholder, 1998).

Many of the algae that cause harmful blooms get their energy from the sun, just like a plant, but
where plants need millions of cells to make up a single organism, the algae are entire organisms
made up of a single cell. When the algae "grow" they reproduce by the millions, so a bloom is
made up of millions of individuals. Some form non-toxic blooms, but they can still cause
problems. When algae reproduce to such high numbers that the cells growing at the top of the
bloom, near the surface of the water, prevent sunlight from penetrating to the algae growing
beneath them, the cells in the deep water die. As the dead algae decompose, the decomposition
process removes dissolved  oxygen from the water. Fish and shellfish need dissolved oxygen in the
water to breathe, so when algae blooms result in low oxygen (hypoxia) or no-oxygen (anoxia)
conditions, there are frequently fish kills and shellfish die-offs as a result.

Other harmful algae blooms produce toxins which can actually kill fish, shellfish, other marine
organisms (including  marine mammals and birds), and cause serious human health problems.
These blooms may discolor large expanses of water, such as in a toxic red tide. But toxic blooms
can be  colorless ~ as with the complex of Pfiesteria organisms. A toxic bloom may also occur in
low concentrations, but still result in fish kills and human health effects, including death in some
instances. A toxic bloom may come and go quickly, or it may persist over long periods (a red tide
in the Gulf of Mexico lasted several months).

The Caribbean is primarily susceptible to toxic algae species that cause ciguatera fish poisoning
(CFP). In the Virgin Islands, nearly 50% of the adult human population are estimated to have been
poisoned by CFP at least once. Algae in the group known as dinoflagellates, specifically,
Gamblerdiscus toxicus, grow on the surfaces of large, red and brown plant-like macroalgae
(seaweed). The dinoflagellates produce chemicals that are transformed into ciguatoxin when the
larger algae are grazed by small, herbivorous fish, who then are eaten by larger, predatory fish. As
the predatory fish consume more and more of the algae-eating fish, they concentrate the toxin in
their tissues. These fish are then eaten by humans, who are subsequently poisoned. Humans are
first affected by CFP with gastrointestinal symptoms, then, neurologic problems set in which may
persist for a short period (weeks), or they may become chronic problems that persist for years.
CFP also occurs in the Pacific, but there the symptoms of the disease do not appear to include
gastrointestinal problems (Anderson, 1995).

The human health concerns and living resource losses bring to mind an obvious question:
what can be done to prevent these blooms? Recall that many of these organisms act like
single-celled plants; also recall how plants respond to nutrient fertilizer ~ they grow. The
microscopic algae that cause HAS events also grow when they're provided nutrients. Over
the past several decades, runoff from agricultural and residential sources have significantly
increased the level of nutrients in coastal waters. Many of these nutrients originate far
upstream in the watershed, and flow downstream to the coast. There is a growing body of
evidence that suggests that this increase in coastal nutrient pollution is related to the
increased frequency of HAB events.

The Federal government is coordinating among the relevant agencies to address these
complex issues -- nutrient pollution and the increase in HAB. EPA and NOAA are among
the agencies involved in funding research that addresses the causes of these harmful blooms.
The research topics include the basic biology of the organisms, their ecology, and the
relationship between nutrients and HAB events. EPA and USDA are among the agencies
taking steps to help farmers and others control their releases of nutrients. But everyone can
participate ~ by reducing the amount of fertilizer applied to lawns or gardens, and managing
manure from farm animals.

Literature Cited

Anderson, D.M. (ed). 1995. ECOHAB, The Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal
Blooms: A National Research Agenda. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole,
MA.  66pp.

Anderson, D.M., S..B. Galloway and J.D. Joseph 1993. Marine Biotoxins and Harmful
Algae: A National Plan. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Technical Report WHOI-
93-02, NMFS and NOAA COP, Woods Hole, MA. 44pp.

Boesch, D.F., D.M. Anderson, R.A. Horner, S.E. Shumway, P.A. Tester and T.E. Whitledge.
1997. Harmful Algae Blooms in Coastal Waters: Options for Prevention, Control and
Mitigation. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series No. 10. NOAA
Coastal Ocean Office, Silver Spring, MD. 46pp + appendix.

Burkholder, J.M. 1998. Implications of Harmful Microalgae and Heterotrophic
Dinoflagellates in Management of Sustainable Marine Fisheries.  Ecological Applications.
vol. 8(1). Suppliment. p.S37-S62.

                                     INTERNET SITES ON OCEANS
                                 A few of many sources of electronic information on oceans.
                                   Harmful Algae Page
                              http://www.red tide, whoiledu/hab
This site provides facts about harmful algal blooms, their effects and harmful algae bloom events in
the news.

                   Ocean Information Resources on the World Wide Web
                     http:// www.lehigh.edu/~injrl/subindex/oceans.html
This site provides links to ocean-related sites.

                                      World of Algae
This page provides biological infromation on algae and links to relevant pages..

This site provides general information about algae, references to literature about algae and specific
information on the dinoflagellate species.

              US Environmental Protection Agency Year of the Ocean Web Page
This site provides links to conference information , ocean publications,  and EPA water monitoring

               The Laboratory of Phycotoxins and Harmful Marine Substances
This site describes research projects being conducted at the University of Nantes and provides a list of
publications by the lab.

                           OceanLink Marine Science Homepage
This site features contributions from several Canadian marine education organizations presenting
information on marine biology, oceanography and pollution.

This site provides information on and links to ocean-related conferences in 1998.

      May 25-29,1998 •- Education and Training in Integrated Coastal Area Management: The
      Mediterranean Prospect, Genoa, Italy.You may contact 1998 Conference Secretariat, International
      Centre for Coastal and Ocean Policy Studies c/o University of Genoa, Deparment POLIS, Stradone di
      S. Agostino 37 16123 Genoa, Italy or Telephone 39 (10) 209-5840, E-mail: iccops@polis.unige.it.

      June 1-4,1998 - Coastal and Marginal Seas.Pms, France. You may visit the Oceanography Society
      web site at http://www.tos.org/parisl998.html

      August 30-September 3,1998 - Third International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health,
      Baltimore, Maryland. You may contact the Symposium Office at telephone: (410) 955-3273, Fax:
      (410) 502-5068 or E-mail: wellfish@welchlink.jhu.edu.

       The new Envoc/INFOTERRA Multilingual Thesaurus of Environmental Terms is now available. It has been revised to reflect
   emerging environmental concerns and new technologies. The thesaurus is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and
   Spanish. For more information, contact'

       SMI (Distribution Services) Limited
       PO Box 119
       Hertfordshire SGI 4TP, UNITED KINGDOM
       FAX.  (44 1234) 782878
       E-Mail: Anthony@smibooks com
                      Guidelines for Contributions to CARIBBEAN CURRENTS
   Any organization or individual operating or involved in the English and French-speaking Caribbean Region is welcome
   to contribute to the newsletter. Contributions should be addressed to:
          Carribean Currents Coordinator
          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
          Headquarters Library, 3404
          401 M Street, S.W
          Washington, D.C.  20460
          Telephone (202) 260-5917; Fax:  (202)260-3923;  E-mail: library-infoterra@epamail.epa.gov
   Please note that submissions should meet the following criteria:
      • They should be relevant to environmental issues
      • They must be of interest to or directly involve the Region
      • They must not endorse or recommend any product or commercial service, explicitly or implicitly
      • They must be brief—under 250 words; Bulletin Board requests should be under 100 words
      • They must be received by the posted deadline (see below)
   Please feel free to contact the CARIBBEAN CURRENTS coordinator if you are interested in submitting a longer article. You
   should contact the coordinator to discuss your topic and any size or content restrictions beforehand. Be aware that once
   your article is submitted, it is subject to editing  as needed. Final decisions on editing and inclusion of any contributions
   are left to the INFOTERRA/USA Manager. Please contact INFOTERRA/USA using the address above to contribute
   any comments, questions, problems, or ideas.
v	DEADLINE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO Vol. 6, No. 3; June 8,1998	

        Welcome to r  'he CARIBBEAN CURRENTS

                      Bulletin Board
Each issue, we will publish questions or concerns of interest to CURRENTS
readers.  Anyone who has materials or information that they are seeking or
that they feel will be helpful should feel free to contribute.   We will post
queries and offerings of general interest on the Bulletin Board.  You may
respond by contacting the reader who has placed the item, or the RSC.
                  Bulletin  Board


     ENFOTERRA/USA has free copies
       of the following publications

      If you would like copies of any of
     these documents, please let us know.

      •   EPA Office of Wastewater
         Management Publications
         Catalog July 1997 (new edition)

      •   Catalog of Publications:  Office of
         Science and Technology, 1997,
         (EPA 820-B97001)

      •   A Commitment to Address the
         Environmental and Development
         Problems of the Wider Caribbean

     To request copies of these
     documents, just write to
     INFOTERRA/USA using the
     contact information on page 7.
       formation Needed on
The next issue of Caribbean
Currents will focus on Recycling.
We would be interested in receiving
any information on projects or
studies related to this issue.

These materials will also be kept on
file for the benefit of researchers
and visitors to INFOTERRA.

Please contact INFOTERRA/USA
using the information on page 7 if
you can provide any assistance.
Thank you for your support!
  Send your Bulletins to the RSC for publication in the next issue.  See
  the Guidelines on page 5 for information on submitting items.

                            About  the  NFP  Directory
This directory reflects changes and additions to the INFOTERRA Directory of National Focal Points
distributed by INFOTERRA/PAC, dated January 1997. Please check this information to verify that it is
correct and up-to-date. If you have any changes or corrections, please notify the RSC as soon as possible.
We will be happy to relay the information to the PAC.

                             NFP DIRECTORY
  Mrs. Candia Williams
  Conservation Officer II
  Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Environment
  Queen Elizabeth Highway
  St. John's
  Telephone:  (809)462-4625      FAX:  (809)462-2836

  Mrs. Lynn Holowesko
  The Bahamas Environment, Science & Technology
  Office of the Prime Minister
  P.O. Box CB 10980
  Telephone:  (242)327-4691      FAX:  (242) 327-4626

  Mrs. Atheline Mayers
  Permanent Secretary (Environment)
  Ministry of Health and the Environment
  Sir, Frank Walcott Building, Culloden Road
  St. Michael, BARBADOS
  Telephone:  (246)431-7680     FAX  (246)437-8859
  E-mail: envdivn@caribsurf.com

  Jaime Jeffery Villanueva
  Fisheries Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
  Princess Margaret Drive, P.O. Box 148
  Belize City
  Telephone: 501-2-44552  FAX:  501-2-32983

  Mr. Ashton Lugay
  Forestry and Wildlife Division
  Ministry of Agriculture, Botanical Gardens
  Telephone-  (809) 448-2401, ext. 417 FAX:  (809)448-7999

  Mr. Bhoonath Birbal
  Institute of Applied Science & Technology
  Research Assistant, Information Unit
  P.O. Box 101050, University Campus, Turkeyen
  Greater Georgetown
  Telephone-  (592-22)4213/4215/421 FAX-  592-22-4229
M. Dalberg Claude
Ministere de I'Agriculture et des Ressources Naturelles
et du Developpement Rural
P.O. Box 1441
Telephone: 509-1-21867 FAX: 509-1-23599

Ms. Yolanda N. Mittoo
Natural Resources Conservation Authority
53 1/2 Molynes Road
P.O. Box 305
Kingston 10
Telephone: (809) 923-5155/5125  FAX: (809) 923-5070
E-mail' nrca@igc.apc.org

Mr Leonard Huggins
Environmental and Development Officer, Planning Unit
Charlestown, Nevis
Telephone: (809) 469-5521   FAX: (809) 469-5485

Mrs. Vanesta Moses-Felix
Government Documentalist
Ministry of Planning, Development and Environment
National Documentation Center
P.O. Box 709
Telephone: (809)452-2611   FAX: (809)452-2506
Regional Service Centre (RSC):
Emma J. McNamara
U S. Environmental Protection Agency
Headquarters Library, 3404
401 M Street, S.W.
Washington, D. C. 20460
Telephone:  (202)260-5917  FAX: (202)260-3923
E-mail: hbrary-infoterra@epamail.epa.gov