Coastal Health District

Environmental Health

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)

Phytoplankton are microscopic algae that are common members of freshwater and marine habitats. Algae are vitally important to marine and freshwater ecosystems and most species of algae are not harmful. However, a harmful algal bloom (HAB) can occur when certain types of microscopic algae grow quickly in water, forming visible patches that may harm the health of the environment, plants or animals. HABs can deplete the oxygen and block sunlight that other organisms need to live and some HAB-causing algae release toxins that are dangerous to animals and humans. HABs occur in marine, estuarine and fresh waters. HABs appear to be increasing along the coastlines and in the surface waters of the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Coastal Georgia Harmful Algal Bloom Response Plan is meant to effectively manage a HAB event. Agencies participating in the plan include the Coastal Health District (9-1); the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, Coastal Resources Division, and Environmental Protection Division; and the NOAA's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research.

To read the Coastal Georgia Harmful Algal Bloom Response Plan, click here:
Coastal GA HAB Response Plan 07.11.11

To see frequently asked questions about Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) and Their Toxins, click here:
Blue-Green Algae FAQ

To see frequently asked questions about Red Tide and associated toxins, click here: Red Tide FAQ