Scene on the Sound: Yellow stuff in the water

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Lines of yellow stuff floating in the Salish Sea
Photo by Barbara Twaddell

Readers have commented on the long strands of yellow floating in the water off Richmond Beach.

The senior oceanographer at the Department of Ecology said this appears to be a Noctiluca bloom that has been observed in this region. Noctiluca is a dinoflagellate (type of plankton) the size of a millet grain and has been blooming in Central Sound and Whidbey Basin for a month.

Noctiluca blooms are generally not toxic to people and pets, but we do not recommend swimming in these blooms. 

The blooms appear orange in color and while decomposing can appear yellow in color, especially near shorelines.


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