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Scripps Scientists Believe They’ve Found a Red Tide Killer

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego has discovered that RCA bacteria - a natural marine microbe - can attack and kill the single-cell plankton that produce red tide algae. The blooms often foul coastal waters, giving them a rust-colored tinge and some can even kill fish and birds.

"From a practical point of view, if these RCA bacteria really do kill (plankton cells) and potentially other harmful algae that form dense blooms, down the road there may be a possibility of using them to mitigate their harmful effects," Scripps oceanographer Peter Franks said in a press release.

It appears the bacteria killed a massive red tide that spread along the Southern California coast in the summer of 2005.

Researchers said red tides have been on the rise in recent years, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in worldwide losses to fisheries and beach tourism activities. 

The research study was published in the May 1 edition of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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