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Climate 'fix' could poison sea life

Source:  Copyright 2010, BBC
Date:  March 16, 2010
Byline:  Richard Black
Original URL: Status ONLINE


Fertilising the oceans with iron to absorb carbon dioxide could increase concentrations of a chemical that can kill marine mammals, a study has found.

Iron stimulates growth of marine algae that absorb CO2 from the air, and has been touted as a "climate fix".

Now researchers have shown that the algae increase production of a nerve poison that can kill mammals and birds.

Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they say this raises "serious concern" over the idea.

The toxin - domoic acid - first came to notice in the late 1980s as the cause of amnesiac shellfish poisoning.

It is produced by algae of the genus Pseudonitzschia, with concentrations rising rapidly when the algae "bloom".

Now, its presence in seawater often requires the suspension of shellfishing operations, and is regularly implicated in deaths of animals such as sealions.

Domoic acid poisoning may also lie ...

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