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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, August 8, 2022
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The Return of the Algae Plume

Dear Source:
I just wanted to comment on the following quote from the article "Algae Plume Is The Marine Guest That Won't Leave" by Lynda Lohr.
"While the algae plume occurs every year, scientists said that this is the first time anyone recalls it flowing this far north."
While I was working at Virgin Islands National Park as a research technician on coral reef monitoring in 1991-1993 there was an algal bloom that affected visibility to depths of at least 50 feet. This was not just isolated to St John sites we monitored. From my memory, the algal bloom affected sites all around St John as well as sites on St Thomas. I am Marine Biologist (and a St Thomian) and was living on St Thomas at the time while working on St John. I cannot recall how long the algal bloom lasted but at the time I remember being told that the algal bloom had been associated with an oceanographic anomaly that saw the effects of the plume from the Orinoco River come more eastwards and up the chain of leeward islands from its river mouth in Venezuela. (see the map graphics associated with the website http://daac.gsfc.nasa.gov/oceancolor/classic_scenes/05_classics_orinoco.shtml ). The high levels of minerals (like silicates) associated with fresh water runoff (like that which could come from the Orinoco R.) are normally limited in marine waters (i.e. do not occur in large quantities) but at higher levels associated w/the river runoff causes marine organisms (plankton) that rely on silica as part of their shells to proliferate. I seem to remember some samples were analyzed in the early 90's bloom and there were high levels of silicated plankton.
Anyhow, it's very interesting to hear that the bloom is still active (my mom told me about it a few weeks back).
Gigi Beretta
Sydney, Australia

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.

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Dear Source:
I just wanted to comment on the following quote from the article "Algae Plume Is The Marine Guest That Won't Leave" by Lynda Lohr.
"While the algae plume occurs every year, scientists said that this is the first time anyone recalls it flowing this far north."
While I was working at Virgin Islands National Park as a research technician on coral reef monitoring in 1991-1993 there was an algal bloom that affected visibility to depths of at least 50 feet. This was not just isolated to St John sites we monitored. From my memory, the algal bloom affected sites all around St John as well as sites on St Thomas. I am Marine Biologist (and a St Thomian) and was living on St Thomas at the time while working on St John. I cannot recall how long the algal bloom lasted but at the time I remember being told that the algal bloom had been associated with an oceanographic anomaly that saw the effects of the plume from the Orinoco River come more eastwards and up the chain of leeward islands from its river mouth in Venezuela. (see the map graphics associated with the website http://daac.gsfc.nasa.gov/oceancolor/classic_scenes/05_classics_orinoco.shtml ). The high levels of minerals (like silicates) associated with fresh water runoff (like that which could come from the Orinoco R.) are normally limited in marine waters (i.e. do not occur in large quantities) but at higher levels associated w/the river runoff causes marine organisms (plankton) that rely on silica as part of their shells to proliferate. I seem to remember some samples were analyzed in the early 90's bloom and there were high levels of silicated plankton.
Anyhow, it's very interesting to hear that the bloom is still active (my mom told me about it a few weeks back).
Gigi Beretta
Sydney, Australia

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.