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Aureococcus anophagefferens (Brown Tide)
"golden brown algal cell causing the lack of feeding"


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The following report is in Adobe PDF format. 

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Summary of 2003: A Comparison of a Bloom Year (2002) with a Non-Bloom Year (2003)

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection, in cooperation with the NJ Sea Grant/NJ Marine Sciences Consortium; U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2; Rutgers University; and the University of Southern California, conducted water sampling for the brown tide organism, Aureococcus anophagefferens, and other environmental parameters. This report includes results of data collected April through September, 2003.

Project Objectives
The objective of the assessment is to characterize the spatial and temporal extent of brown tide blooms caused by a minute alga, Aureococcus anophagefferens, at eleven water quality network stations in the coastal waters of New Jersey. The brown tide concentrations were evaluated using the Brown Tide Bloom Index (Gastrich & Wazniak, 2002; see Brown Tide Newsletter, June 2001, Figs. 1-3) that relates concentrations of the brown tide organism, A. anophagefferens, to potential negative impacts on natural resources including shellfish, seagrasses and protozoa. Because the results indicated that there were few brown tide blooms in 2003 as compared to previous years, the objective of the data analysis was to compare brown tide abundances and water quality parameters in 2003 with 2002 levels.

In 2003, there were no elevated brown tide blooms (e.g., Category 2 or 3 blooms) with the exception of one station in Tuckerton Bay (1818D) that had low Category 2 blooms on June 17 and June 26. All other stations had Category 1 blooms (< 35,000 cells/mL) from April through September. Figure 1 shows elevated brown tide blooms (e.g., Category 3 and Category 2) occurring in 2002 as compared to much lower concentrations at similar stations in 2003. Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) concentrations were significantly higher in 2003 (p<0.01) as compared to 2002 levels (Figure 2). The average temperature (0C) in 2002 was 20.94 0C and 19.03 0C in 2003 and temperatures were significantly higher in 2002 than in 2003 (p<0.0001). The average salinity was higher at 29.52 ppt during the 2002 bloom year than the average salinity of 24.52 during the 2003 non-bloom year and salinity was also significantly higher in 2002 than in 2003 (p<0.0001). While a more comprehensive data analysis will be completed in a few months, these differences between the 2002 bloom year and the 2003 non-bloom year may provide insights as to the potential factors which may be promoting brown tide blooms. Current research by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is focused on elucidating such factors toward eventually managing brown tide blooms.

Figure 1. 2002 Brown Tide Assessment Project Stations: Little Egg Harbor

Legend: Brown Tide Bloom Index
Category 1 = Blue DOTS (<35,000 cells/mL)
Category 2 = Yellow DOTS (£ 35,000 to < 200,000 cells/mL)
Category 3 = Red DOTS (³ 200,000 cells/mL) (highest concentrations)
Station Numbers are indicated in red (but not all were sampled).

Figure 2: NJDEP Brown Tide Assessment Project: Comparison of Dissolved Organic Nitrogen
Concentrations in 2002 and 2003.


Gastrich, M.D. and C. E. Wazniak. 2002. A Brown Tide Bloom Index Based on the Potential Harmful Effects of the Brown Tide Alga, Aureococcus anophagefferens. Aquatic Ecosystems Health & Management. Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 175–190.

For more information or to report a brown tide bloom, contact Dr. Mary Downes Gastrich, Brown Tide Assessment Project Manager, in the Division of Science, Research and Technology at (609) 292-1895 or email Mary.Downes-Gastrich@dep.state.nj.us or go to the website: http://www.crssa.rutgers.edu/projects/btide/

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Division of Science, Research and Technology
Dr. Eileen Murphy, Director
401 East State St., 1st Floor
PO Box 409
Trenton, NJ 08625

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Last Updated: March 15, 2004