Fish and wildlife have long been at risk from algacore blooms, but a new study finds that these blooms can affect fish as well as wildlife in a large-scale way.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, looked at the effects of a bloom on the fish and birds of the U.S. West Coast, which includes Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho.
The study looked at over 2,400 fish and fish species, from smallmouth bass and salmon to the largest, northern spotted bass.
The results show that fish caught in the bloom were more likely to suffer from lower growth and larger body weights than fish caught during normal spawning times.
“These fish are in a great state of flux, and when they are stressed, they are less able to recover from that stress,” study co-author Sarah Anderson, a marine ecologist with the University of Washington, said in a press release.
“That makes them more vulnerable to the stress of a COVID-19 pandemic.”
The study also looked at how algal bloom impacts the wildlife, and found that the number of birds dying of hypothermia or starvation was more common in areas that were more polluted.
Anderson said the study doesn’t show a direct correlation between the bloom and the number or size of dead birds, but they found that there was a correlation between pollution and the increase in mortality of wildlife.
“The results suggest that in some ways, COVIDs are more of a threat to wildlife than algal algae blooms,” Anderson said.
“We think that the fish are more likely exposed to a more toxic environment, and we think that that could contribute to the mortality.”
A lot of the study’s results can be explained by the fact that these species are migrating and traveling throughout the West Coast.
The researchers noted that a lot of migratory birds and other species are found in areas of the West that are already stressed, including the Great Lakes and the Great Plains.
Anderson explained that this study is the first study to look at this migration.
While the study didn’t examine the effects on the food chain, it found that algal pollution may have an impact on some of the birds that migrate through the area.
“We can’t say for sure, but we did find that there were differences in feeding behavior,” Anderson told Fox News.
“The populations of some of these species, particularly the northern spotted ones, were more susceptible to the pollution than others.”
Anderson said that she’s not surprised that some species were impacted more than others, and stressed the importance of keeping food and fish healthy.
“This study provides a very strong and comprehensive case for maintaining good food and water supplies for the species that are migrating in the West,” she said.