The incidence of red tide events globally has escalated in marine coastal environments over the last several decades (Cordier et al. 2000). The term red tide is used to describe a phenomenon in which a water body exhibits red coloration from the presence of high algal cell density. Red tide events are often harmful to both human and aquatic organisms. However, the term may be confusing, because red tide refers not only to the high density of microscopic algal cells that colorize water, but also includes blooms of highly toxic cells that can cause problems even at low cell densities, i.e., a few hundred cells L−1. Therefore, the term Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) has been introduced to describe blooms of both toxic and non-toxic algae that potentially have negative effects on humans and the environment (Anderson 2009). The reported global incidence of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) that has been associated with HABs has been increasing annually (Anderson 1989). However, it is still unclear whether the increase results from elevated public awareness and reporting of HABs, or from an increase in anthropogenic factors, like increasing marine pollution incidents.

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