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In the Indian River Lagoon, toxic algae blooms poison bull sharks, researchers say

National Wildlife Federation
Bull shark

Researchers say harmful algae blooms are poisoning bull sharks in the Indian River Lagoon.

They say it’s a sign of the widespread impact of the blooms, as the toxins move throughout the food web.

The study from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute shows the greatest concentration of toxins were in the sharks’ stomachs.

The researchers say that as they examined the animals’ stomachs, they also identified toxins in lower level species like catfish and mullet -- seafood that humans consume.

The study is the first to measure toxins produced by harmful algae blooms in bull sharks.

In the Indian River Lagoon harmful algae blooms have been devastating.

Most notably the blooms have caused a widespread loss of seagrass, leading to an unprecedented die-off of manatees, which have been left starving.

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, among many other publications. She began her career at The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. Amy grew up in Florida and lives in Orlando with her 7-year-old daughter.
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