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1 September 2001 Are Pyrodinium Blooms in the Southeast Asian Region Recurring and Spreading? A View at the End of the Millennium
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Pyrodinium bahamense (var. compressum) has been the only dinoflagellate species that has caused major public health and economic problems in the Southeast Asian region for more than 2 decades now. It produces saxitoxin, a suite of toxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). A serious toxicological problem affecting many countries of the world, mild cases of this poisoning can occur within 30 minutes while in extreme cases, death through respiratory paralysis may occur within 2–24 hrs of ingestion of intoxicated shellfish. Blooms of the organism have been reported in Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines and Indonesia. The ASEAN-Canada Red Tide Network has recorded 31 blooms of the organism in 26 areas since 1976 when it first occurred in Sabah, Malaysia. As of 1999, the most hard hit country has been the Philippines which has the greatest number of areas affected (18) and highest number of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) cases (about 1995). Malaysia has reported a total of 609 PSP cases and 44 deaths while Brunei has recorded 14 PSP cases and no fatalities. Indonesia, on the other hand has a record of 427 PSP cases and 17 deaths. Studies on ecological/environmental impacts of these blooms have not been done in the region. Estimates of economic impacts have shown that the loss could be up to USD 300 000 day−1. Most of the data and information useful for understanding Pyrodinium bloom dynamics have come from harmful/toxic algal monitoring and research that have developed to different degrees in the various countries in the region affected by the organism's bloom. Regional collaborative research and monitoring efforts can help harmonize local data sets and ensure their quality and availability for comparative analysis and modeling. Temporal patterns of the blooms at local and regional scales and possible signals and trends in the occurrence/recurrence and spread of Pyrodinium blooms could be investigated. Existing descriptive and simple predictive models of Pyrodinium blooms can be improved and refined to help in the management of the wild harvest and aquaculture of shellfish in a region where the people are dependent on these resources for their daily food sustainance and livelihood.

Rhodora V. Azanza and F. J. R. Max Taylor "Are Pyrodinium Blooms in the Southeast Asian Region Recurring and Spreading? A View at the End of the Millennium," AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 30(6), 356-364, (1 September 2001).
Received: 4 July 2000; Accepted: 1 November 2000; Published: 1 September 2001

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