- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Red tides kill seabirds with ‘soapy’ foam
In late 2007, seabirds off the coast of California began to die in record numbers. The waterproof nature of their feathers and been wrecked, and they were soaked to the skin. Without an insulating layer of air trapped within their plumage, the damp birds were suffering from extreme cold. These are exactly the type of problems that seabirds face when they blunder into oil spills, but in this case, not a drop of petroleum had entered the water. The problem was a biological one.
At the same time, Monterey Bay in California was plagued by a massive “red tide” – a bloom of microscopic algae called dinoflagellates. These blooms can include millions of cells in just a millilitre of water