Algae outbreak in Arabian Sea threatens fisheries

Noctiluca scintillans, suited to grow in low-oxygen water, has been spreading in Arabian Sea for the last decade

By Aditya Misra
Published: Friday 12 September 2014

The rise of Noctiluca scintillans at the base of the Arabian Sea food chain threatens fisheries in Oman and other countries bordering the sea (Photo by Joaquim Goes  (Courtesy Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) A type of green algae growing in the Arabian Sea is becoming a threat to fisheries in the region.

According to a news report published by the Columbia UniversityÔÇÖs Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, green Noctiluca scintillans has been spreading in the region over the last decade.

Noctiluca scintillans is plankton that can survive in low-oxygen waters and a growing ÔÇ£dead zoneÔÇØ in Arabian Sea has allowed the plankton to dominate the area. This is a threat to fish in the area that help sustain 120 million people living on the shores of Oman, India and Pakistan. The plankton is ÔÇ£an unusual dinoflagellate that eats other plankton and draws energy from the sun via microscopic algae living within its cells,ÔÇØ says the report.

Researchers say that the discharge of nutrient rich sewage from coastal cities is expanding the dead zone and fuelling NoctilucaÔÇÖs growth.

The diet list of green Noctiluca scintillans is quite long. It eats other planktons (living and dead), diatoms, algae and small organisms. This gives the plankton an advantage and helps it spread.

The research paper says that ÔÇ£N. scintillans blooms could disrupt the traditional diatom-sustained food chain to the detriment of regional fisheries and long-term health of an ecosystem.ÔÇØ The paper was published in Nature Communications on September 9.

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