not so fast

Blooms of toxic algae can occur in the open ocean, a team of scientists has reported. Once thought to be a problem plaguing only the coast, causing fishery closures and wildlife deaths, the research shows that open-sea algae populations also occasionally bloom into a toxic soup.

Since the algae consume carbon dioxide, earlier research by Moss Landing Marine Laboratories director Kenneth Coale had led to proposals to fertilise the ocean on a mass scale to stave off global warming.

The discovery of the algae’s toxicity throws a spanner into these plans.

“We should use this as a caution,” said Mary Silver of the University of California. “Using iron fertilisation as a remedy for global warming would be dangerous.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 2010