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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Brown Tide Assessment

Brown tides are caused by the rapid population growth (“bloom”) of a minute alga, Aureococcus anophagefferens. While not reported to be harmful to human health, brown tides may negatively impact shellfish (e.g., hard clams, oysters, scallops) and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) communities. Large A. anophagefferens blooms may negatively impact shellfish by causing reduced feeding, reduced growth rates, and/or mortality. Submerged aquatic vegetation may be impacted due to the shading effects of brown tides.

Although brown tides were suspected to have occurred in Barnegat Bay in 1985-86, they were first documented in 1995 in Little Egg Harbor and in southern Barnegat Bay. Brown tides were also reported in Barnegat Bay in 1997 and 1999. In response, in 1999 the Division of Science, Research and Technology, in cooperation with several partners, implemented the Brown Tide Assessment Project. Monitoring activities were conducted from 2000 through 2004. The primary objectives of this study were to

(1) characterize the spatial and temporal occurrence of brown tides in Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor,
(2) identify those environmental factors that may promote the development and maintenance of brown tides, and
(3) analyze the risk of brown tides to SAV communities.

A number of reports and publications (including annual NJDEP project reports) were previously prepared that included analyses, interpretations, and conclusions based on data collected during the years 2000-2003. The current Research Project Summary (see link) summarizes the analysis of the data collected during the entire five-year period of the study (2000-2004), as presented in the Final Project Report for the study (see Related Reports). The major focus of this analysis was a comparison of the data from three years in which brown tides were observed in Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor (2000-2002) with two “non-bloom” years (2003-2004).

Full version of the 2004-2005 Research Project

Final Report - Brown Tide Assessment Project Years 2000-2004:
Developing Indicators of Brown Tide Blooms in NJ Coastal Waters (126 pages)

Final Report - Tables, Graphics & Appendices (103 pages)

Related Reports
Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Waters of New Jersey - May 2000

Brown Tide Newsletters (2000-2002)

Related Links

Rutgers - Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing -Brown Tide Monitoring

Harmful Algae Blooms in Maryland

Peconic Estuary Program

The Harmful Algae Page - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research

Office of Science
Dr. Gary A. Buchanan, Manager

Mailing Address:
Mail code 428-01, P.O. Box 420
P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 0862
Office Location:
428 East State St., 1st floor
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 984-6070
Fax: (609) 292-7340


For Information regarding this site, please contact Terri Tucker.

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Copyright State of New Jersey, 1996-2009
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 1, 2010