Cyanobacteria are present throughout California’s freshwater and marine ecosystems. In certain conditions, such as high temperatures and nutrient levels, they can grow excessively and produce potent toxins which create harmful algal blooms (HABs). Observation of these blooms and concern regarding toxins has increased in recent years. CDFW has a strategic goal to establish partnerships with local colleges and universities to encourage applied research which provides answers to unresolved wildlife conservation issues. In working towards this goal, OLP partnered with many other organizations to perform a study that attributed sea otter mortality in Monterey Bay to HABs producing toxic microcystins in Pinto Lake. This journal is freely available online.
The OLP has been active in HAB testing since 2006 and continues to expand and improve the suite of available cyanotoxin tests. The laboratory began offering rapid immunoassay based analysis for entities responding to blooms in 2015. Currently, the laboratory offers analysis for microcystins, anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin, nodularin, domoic acid, and okadaic acid. The OLP actively participates in a number of joint management efforts including the California CyanoHAB Network (CCHAB) and is under contract to produce laboratory protocols for SWAMP monitoring efforts.