The 2012 outlook is based on the quantities of the algae Alexandrium fundyense in its dormant or cyst state detected in Gulf of Maine sediments last fall. These data are combined with computer simulations that model a complex range of meteorological and oceanographic conditions -- winds, sunlight, rainfall, tides, and currents -- that impact the size of the bloom.
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The algae in the water pose no direct threat to human beings, however the toxins they produce can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans who consume them.
Under a newly developed rating system, a moderate bloom could cause the closure of shellfish beds along an estimated 126 250 miles of coastline.
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