J5.6 Climate Variability and Seasonal Recurrence of Harmful Algae Blooms in the Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 5:15 PM
Room 228/229 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Mercy J. Borbor-Cordova, Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral, Guayaquil, Ecuador; and G. Torres, B. Bayot, A. R. Cedeno, R. Bermudez, L. E. Escobar, S. Hamilton, M. Pozo, C. G. Recalde, S. J. Ryan, and A. M. Stewart-Ibarra

Climate change and anthropogenic activities in the coastal zone are increasing the risk of Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs). Since 1968 more than 100 HAB events, often called ‘red tides' have been reported within the ocean and coastal zone of Ecuador. Approximately 77% of these events were associated with the massive death of fish, birds, and or shrimp. Seasonal recurrence of HABs during the wet and warm season suggests that weather factors such as temperature and rainfall, together with warmer sea surface temperatures (SST) may have a key role in the establishment of HABs. We analyze the variability of weather on ocean systems in Ecuador and explore links between the socio-ecology of coastal communities and epidemiological data related to HABs reports. The three main components of this research are: a) the historical reconstruction (i.e. 2000-2014) of climate-ocean and anthropogenic conditions associated with HAB events, b) an assessment of health practitioners' knowledge and risk perception on HABs health effects, and c) an ecological study of the biotic and abiotic marine conditions associated with harmful algae communities via remotely sensed imagery (i.e., sea surface temperature and Chlorophyll-a) and field data. This ongoing study attempts to enable a collaborative partnership between interdisciplinary researchers, public health staff, and key local stakeholders, to promote a participative process to identify risk areas and seasons and guide interventions and coastal policy delineation in this largely neglected public health issue on the coastal communities of southern Ecuador.

Key words: Harmful algae bloom, SST, rainfall, chlorophyll a, remote sensing.

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