Marine Harmful Algal Blooms, human health and wellbeing: challenges and opportunities in the 21st centuary

Elisa Berdalet, Lora Fleming, Richard Gowen, Keith Davidson, P Hess, Lorraine Backer, Stephanie Moore, Porter Hoagland, Henrik Enevoldsen

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325 Citations (Scopus)
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Microalgal blooms are a natural part of the seasonal cycle of photosynthetic organisms in the marine ecosystems. They are key components of the structure and dynamics of the oceans and thus sustain the benefits that humans obtain from these aquatic environments. However, some microalgal blooms can cause harm to humans and other organisms. These harmful algal blooms (HABs) have direct impacts on human health and negative influences on human wellbeing, mainly through their consequences to coastal ecosystem services (valued fisheries, tourism and recreation) and other marine organisms and environments. HABs are natural phenomena, but these events can be favored by antropogenic pressures in coastal areas. Global warming and associated changes in the oceans could affect HAB occurrences and toxicity as well, although forecasting the possible trends is still speculative and require intensive multidisciplinary research.At the beginning of the XXIst century, with expanding human populations, particularly in coastal and developing countries, there is an urgent need to prevent and mitigate HABs impacts on human health and wellbeing. The available tools to address this global challenge include maintaining intensive, multidisciplinary and collaborative scientific research, and strengthen the coordination with stakeholders, policy makers and the general public. Here we provide an overview of different aspects to understand the relevance of the HABs phenomena, an important element of the intrinsic links between oceans and human health and wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-91
Number of pages31
JournalJournal Of The Marine Biological Association Of The United Kingdom
Issue numbers1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2015


  • Harmful algal blooms
  • Human health and wellbeing
  • Marine biotoxins
  • ecosystem services


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