Green San Diego Waters Have Residents Perplexed

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Over the course of the past few days, San Diego beachgoers have been making a beeline for the ocean—away from it, that is. Residents have been noticing a strange, sickly-looking greenish tinge to the normally deep blue Pacific waters lapping onto the shores of beaches across the County, a phenomenon that has been raising fears of toxic contamination.

Carlsbad citizen Kristina Rebelo told the San Diego Union-Tribune she’s never seen anything like it: “My husband and I have been going to Frazee, Tamarack, or Buccaneer every single day of the year — after work and on weekends — and we have never seen these conditions,” she said. “People were trying to stay out of it. It actually looked like a behemoth can of slime-green paint had been unceremoniously dumped into the Pacific Ocean.”

But despite residents’ concerns, it seems the brilliantly verdant color is simply the result of a green algae that has begun infesting the coastline from San Diego to L.A. According to the Union-Tribune, scientists at the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System have identified the algae as Tetraselmis, a non-toxic strain that won’t do much other than make the water a feel a little more slick than usual.

Although the abundance of the little green organisms is nothing to worry about as of now, ocean experts are puzzled at the extraordinary concentration of the algae in the water, an occurrence that is highly unusual. If such radical numbers of Tetraselmis continue to flourish in San Diego waters, they could potentially pose a risk that they do not currently pose—depleting the water of oxygen needed by fish, and clogging pipes and estuaries, effects that could be detrimental to the delicate ecosystems of San Diego beaches.

Photo from brandi666 via flickr

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