Some of you, especially those who commute between Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, may have noticed murky, red tinted ocean water along the coast. This abnormal looking sea water is due to a natural event called a “red tide.” The event has been ongoing in the waters off Ventura County for several weeks, with a shorter but still significant and noticeable event more recent off Santa Barbara County.
What are red tides? Why do they happen? And how do they impact our environment?
Today, Carrie Culver, our Ventura and Santa Barbara County UCCE Sea Grant Marine Advisor shares some of her knowledge with us.
Red tides are made up of microscopic, single cell plants known as phytoplankton. These tiny plants are the basis of the bottom of the ocean food web. Phytoplankton have pigments that capture sunlight used for growth and reproduction. Red tides occur when these plants reproduce extremely rapidly resulting in a large ‘blooms’ of phytoplankton.
Because phytoplankton blooms can reach concentrations of millions of cells per gallon of water, the water itself can change color. The color of the water varies depending on the types of phytoplankton species present. The blooms can produce hues of bright red, brown, burgundy, yellow and anything in-between. Some blooms produce no visible changes.
Blooms can last from a few days to several months. The length of time depends on a variety of variables including: available nutrients, sunlight, water temperature, changes in wind or surf conditions, competition with other species, and grazing by zooplankton and small fish.
Depending on the type of phytoplankton, the blooms may or may not be toxic. Luckily our current red tide is not toxic. It consists of three organisms; mainly Lingulodinium polyedrum in combination with species of Prorocentrum and Ceratium. While these organisms do not produce toxins, they still can impact people and marine life due to the changes in the chemical composition of the water. People swimming through a non-toxic bloom have reported irritation of the eyes, mouth, and throat, as well as cold and flu-like symptoms. The water can also become depleted of oxygen leading to fish kills and deaths of other marine life.
How do you know whether a red tide is toxic or not? You can’t tell just by looking at the water. You need to refer to the experts, including the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). This agency works with dedicated volunteers from other agencies, universities and public and private groups to routinely monitor our coast and shellfish for the presence of these blooms. You can obtain the collected data from CDPH’s toll-free Biotoxin Information Line at 1-800-553-4133. That line can also be used to request a copy of the monthly monitoring newsletter or to get further information on phytoplankton blooms.
The following Featured Club Happenings was written and submitted by two 10 year old Somis 4-H Club Members, Jorden Harber and Juliette Avalos.
Somis 4-H is a smaller club with only about 30 members; however, it has a lot to offer!
We started off the 4-H year with an ice cream social and by sharing the many awards that were earned at the Ventura County fair!
At our monthly club meetings, the 4-Hers share their experiences in community service, projects, and/or any awards they have earned.
This year, Somis 4-H is offering many animal projects such as Poultry, Lamb, and Swine.
Our club is proud to participate in many community service projects such as Rescue Mission, TOTSOCE, beach clean-ups, and we have our own graffiti task force. This year all of our fall service projects such as the toy and turkey drives will be donated to the Salvation Army.
Some other projects offered this year include cooking, CPR/first aid, coyote calling, hiking and arts and crafts. Some of us will learn to cook a full meal for the first time or test our courage by calling coyotes in the middle of the night.
Somis 4-H has a wonderful variety of projects for all ages and all interests!
Featured Club Happenings are regularly included in our Clover Lines 4-H Newsletter. Additional articles and newsletters can be found here.
At this time of year many Ventura County 4-H youth participate in the TOTSOCE (Trick or Treat so Others Can Eat) community service project. Instead of going door to door for candy, these kids go door to door for canned and other non-perishable food items. The food is then passed on to FOOD Share, Ventura County’s food bank. They in turn distribute the food to a network of certified charitable agencies in our county.
Last year 4,170 pounds of food was collected. The official collection period for this project is October 19th through November 8th, and the goal is 5,000 pounds. Please do what you can to support this effort.
While the project is organized by Ventura County 4-H and FOOD Share, the project is open to other youth groups and organizations. If interested, contact email@example.com.
Falling trees, or even a single fallen limb, can cause property damage, personal injury, and even death. These types of problems can happen at any time, but are more likely to happen during or right after a storm.
It is wise to take the time to evaluate trees on your property. The University of California has a publication, “Inspect Your Landscape Trees for Hazards”. It is available for free online in English and Spanish. The publication points out specific signs that may indicate that trees, or pieces of them, are at risk for falling. All evaluations are done from the ground.
As we head into our region’s stormy time of year, it is a good time to evaluate your trees for safety. You might want to share this information with your neighbors too!
Broken branch recently examined by Ventura County UCCE Environmental Horticulture Advisor, Jim Downer
The USDA has just launched a website, “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food”. The main goal of the site is to create new economic opportunities by connecting local food producers and consumers. In addition the USDA wants to help people be more connected and aware of the importance of understanding where our food comes from and how it gets onto our plates.
How does the USDA hope to accomplish these goals?
- By building the infrastructure to support the growth and viability of small and mid-sized farms and ranches new opportunities will in turn strengthen local and regional food systems and the communities they serve.
- They want people to make smart decisions about what they eat. Communities filled with people making healthy decisions will further support and strengthen local communities.
- The USDA will work with interested food producers to lower their energy costs and improve their resource management as well as assisting to preserve farm and ranch lands.
- These goals will be met using programs and people to support this effort. An assortment of programs and grant funds are available to help make this vision a reality.
To find out more, please visit www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer.