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.

READ MORE: Evacuation Warnings Issued for San Mateo County Areas Burned by CZU Lightning Complex Fire

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.

READ MORE: Police Investigation of Shattered Vehicle Windows Temporarily Shuts Highway 17 Saturday

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.

MORE NEWS: Russian River Rubber Dam Deflated Due to Impending Storm