FORT ROSS (CBS SF) — The death of tens of thousands of abalone along the Bay Area’s coastline is being blamed on a microscopic sea creature.

A team of scientists and geneticists identified the poison-producing micro-organism known as Gonyaulax spinifera using an approach called forensic genomics.

Large numbers of red abalone, sea stars, sea urchins, and other marine invertebrates were found dead in a “red tide” along the Sonoma County coastline three years ago.

Environmental scientists from Stanford tested samples from the dead abalone, which came up negative for more common algae bloom-related suspects that occur in the area, but did notice that Gonyaulax algae, which can sometimes produce toxins, was abundant.

 

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