, Volume 596, Issue 1, pp 79-93
Date: 13 Jul 2007

Occurrences of harmful algal blooms (HABs) associated with ocean environments in the South China Sea

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Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur frequently in the South China Sea (SCS), causing enormous economic losses in aquaculture. We analyzed historical HAB records during the period from 1980 to 2003 in SCS. We found that HABs-affected areas have expanded and the frequency of HABs varied during this period. The seasonal and annual variations, as well as causative algal species of HABs are different among the four regions. Areas with frequent HABs include the Pearl River Estuary (China), the Manila Bay (the Philippines), the Masinloc Bay (the Philippines), and the western coast of Sabah (Malaysia). HABs occurred frequently during March–May in the northern region of SCS, May–July in the eastern region, July in the western region, and year-round in the southern region. Among the species that cause HABs, Noctiluca scintillans dominated in the northern region, and Pyrodinium bahamense in the southern and eastern regions. Causative species also varied in different years for the entire SCS. Both P. bahamense and N. scintillans were the dominant species during 1980–2003. Some species not previously recorded formed blooms during 1991–2003, including Phaeocystis globosa, Scrippsiella trochoidea, Heterosigma akashiwo, and Mesodinium rubrum. Variations in HABs are related to various regional conditions, such as a reversed monsoon wind in the entire SCS, river discharges in the northern area, upwelling in Vietnam coastal waters during southwest winds and near Malaysia coastal waters during northeast winds, and eutrophication from coastal aquaculture in the Pearl River estuary, Manila Bay, and Masinloc Bay.