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A Potential 'Red Tide Killer' Identified

Narrator: This is Science Today. Red tides, or harmful algal blooms, occur when microscopic algae quickly accumulate. This phenomena has been on the rise in recent years and has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses worldwide to fisheries and beach tourism.

Franks: A lot of red tides around the world are quite toxic and quite nasty. And in fact, there's probably at least ten times more people killed by phytoplankton every year around the world than are killed by sharks. Phytoplankton are far more dangerous than sharks in the ocean.

Narrator: Peter Franks, a biological oceanographer at the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography says their team has identified a potential "red tide killer" in the form of a bacteria that attaches to blooms of single-celled plankton, or dinoflagellates, and kills them.

Franks: It's like some poor elephant being attacked by three chipmunks and taken down and so two or three bacteria seemed to be able to kill one of these dinoflagellates.

Narrator: This novel interaction may lead to a better understanding of planktonic ecosystems. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.