S113 Potential Relationship between Harmful Algae Blooms and Tourism to Cape Cod

Sunday, 6 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Lucy Maria Flores, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Corpus Christi, TX; and P. Hoagland

Harmful algal blooms (HAB) are known to adversely affect the environment and marine life of an area. Toxins produced by HAB can accumulate in the bodies of shellfish up to the point where shellfish become toxic. If the toxins within the shellfish reach high levels, usually greater than 80 micrograms/liter, the shellfish then become dangerous to consumers and shellfish beds are closed to prevent consumption. Individuals eating these toxic shellfish can suffer from different types of syndromes, one of them being Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). The detrimental affects experienced by marine life, are also felt by the environment as HAB results in beach closing because of possible contamination in the air and water. It is possible that tourism to a destination such as Cape Cod, Massachusetts, can be affected by HAB. Fear of becoming sick because of the HAB can impede individuals from visiting Cape Cod, resulting in a possible decrease in tourism. Our goal is to determine if there is a negative relationship between HAB and tourism to Cape Cod. We hypothesize, that there is no effect between HAB and the influx of tourism to Cape Cod. Factors, such as the amount of precipitation, rainy days, and temperature, can be more prominent factors in determining a tourists' decision to visit the Cape than HAB can be. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a statistical analysis of the relationship between measures of Cape Cod tourism and PSP levels, including other explanatory variables. Hotel state room tax for sixteen towns in Cape Cod and traffic count over the Bourne and Sagamore bridges were correlated with average PSP toxicity data in order to verify significance. Our preliminary results show that there is no drastic distinction between periods of HAB and periods of non-HAB when looking at Hotel state tax collection in Cape Cod and the traffic coming to and from Cape Cod. Preliminary analysis of the potential relationship between HAB and tourism to Cape Cod seems to verify our hypothesis that there is no drastic effect on tourism once a HAB occurs. It is possible that with this information prediction models can be produced illustrating the fluctuations in tourism in the event of a HAB.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner