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By Lillian Boyd

Surfrider Foundation has announced a survey to track health issues from red tide exposure in Baja and Southern California.

From March 30 to May 31, beachgoers noticed record-breaking counts of Lingulodinium polyedra (L. polyedra), a species of phytoplankton that created a red tide along the Baja and California coasts from Ensenada to Ventura.

During the day, a thick brown-red plume could be seen at beaches and bays across the region. At night, the plume would turn into a bioluminescent show with bright blue glowing waves and shore break.

The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit organization that seeks to protect the world’s oceans, waves and beaches through its activist network. Its Clean Water Initiative aims to protect coastal waterways, communities and wildlife from water pollution.

Crashing waves near the San Clemente Pier on Saturday, May 2, give off a blue glow—a phenomenon associated with red tide events that are caused an aggregation of species called dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedra. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

“While L. polyedra is considered less toxic than some other red tide culprits, anecdotal reports suggest it may impact respiratory health and trigger skin rashes,” said Katie Day, Surfrider staff scientist.

The Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) and researchers at UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography are collaborating with the Surfrider Foundation to collect community anecdotal information and data for inclusion in future publications and bulletins on symptoms experienced after exposure to an L. polyedra bloom.

SCCOOS is one of 11 regions that contributes to the national U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System by collecting, integrating and delivering coastal and ocean observations in order to improve safety and protect the environment.

Creators of the survey are asking people who visited the beach during the latest red tide to complete a short questionnaire. The survey is anonymous, but for those interested in having researchers follow up, an option to provide contact information is provided.

The survey can be taken in either Spanish or English.

Lillian Boyd
Lillian Boyd is the senior editor for Picket Fence Media and city editor for Dana Point Times. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University. Her work experience includes interviewing incarcerated individuals in the Los Angeles County jails, an internship at the Pentagon covering U.S. Army news as well as reporting and anchoring for a local news radio station in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @Lillianmboyd and follow Dana Point Times at @danapointtimes.

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