Red Algae or the Red Tide

The Washington State Department of Ecology says red algae blooms currently in the Puget Sound are harmless to people.

Lab tests show the red-orange blooms are not the so-called "red tide" that refers to paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Reports of algae blooms are coming in from around the area, from Bainbridge Island to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The harmless red-orange algae is Noctiluca (nock-ti-LU-kah). Ecology officials say the single-celled micro-organism occurs normally this time of year. This type of plankton does not photosynthesize but gets its red color from the phytoplankton it eats.

It may appear as large red-brown streaks along current and tidal convergence lines.

Ecology officials thank the public for keeping them informed about the health of the Puget Sound.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.