Shutdown leaves Kachemak Bay residents worrying about bloom of brown algae

From the Homer Tribune: A bloom of brown plankton that's creating a sludge up to 5 feet thick in parts of Kachemak Bay is unsightly but probably not particularly harmful, scientists say. Still, residents of bay communities would like to know what is causing it and whether it will be harmful to shellfish and other sea life. They'll have to wait for an answer because of the federal government shutdown.

Kris Holdereid, the NOAA manager of the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory on Jakolof Bay in Kasitsna Bay, was mid-stride into an inquiry on the root beer-colored plankton bloom. Then came the U.S. federal government shutdown.

“I am not allowed to work on it, not even to volunteer to keep studying it,” Holdereid said Tuesday. ...

Clem Tillion, an Alaska icon and 60-year resident at Halibut Cove, said in all his years, he had never seen such a breakout. But he feels certain it is not a harmful event.

“Algal blooms gives our oysters and waters nutrients. Clear water has no life,” Tillion said. “This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s more than we’ve normally seen. I’ve never seen this much algae. It’s one of the biggest localized blooms.”

Read more: Conclusions about 'brown tide' delayed by shutdown