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Tiny but toxic! Harmful algal blooms:
The science, technology and you!

Join COSEE-West in this free online workshop, March 21 - April 8, 2011

Some species of microscopic phytoplankton can cause problems for marine life and even humans, with health impacts ranging from mild to lethal. We will explore the mysterious world of saltwater and fresh water phytoplankton and learn about harmful species, what makes them so dangerous, and how stricken marine mammals and seabirds are nursed back to health.

This is a free 3-week online workshop offered by COSEE-West and the College of Exploration. Graduate credit is available for this workshop. (See below right.)

Alexandrium chain
Alexandrium chain*
Week One
Pseudonitschia diatoms*
“Harmful Algal Blooms Along the Southern California Coast: What are They, What are Their Causes, What are Their Impacts?”
by Dr. David Caron

Lecture available Fri March 18, 5pm Pacific
Interaction with scientists: March 21 - 25

Week Two
SCCOOS Santa Monica Bay
Chlorophyll levels in Santa Monica Bay (SCCOOS)
"Research and monitoring of harmful algal blooms: Improving observations using autonomous vehicles and sensor networks"
by Ms. Beth Stauffer

"SCCOOS Harmful Algal Blooms"
by Ms. Amanda Dillon

Lectures available Fri March 24, 5pm Pacific
Interaction with scientists and specialist: March 28 – April 1

Bonus presentations for Week 2:
"Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning in California"
by Erica Seubert

"Ecology of a Harmful Algal Bloom in a Fresh Water Ecosystem" by Adriane Jones

Week Three - 2 Virtual Field Trips!

CA Sea Lion
California Sea Lion (MMCC)

The Marine Mammal Care Center
(MMCC) at Fort MacArthur, featuring veterinarian Dr. Lauren Palmer and Director of Operations David Bard,

Visit the MMCC website

Brown pelicans
Brown Pelicans (IBRRC)

The International Bird Rescue Research Center
(IBRRC) - southern California center, featuring IBRRC Rehabilitation Manager Julie Skoglund.

Visit the IBRRC website

Both of the Virtual Field Trips are available
Fri April 1, 5pm Pacific
Interaction with marine animal rehab specialists: April 4 - 8


Join and Access this COSEE-West online event.

If you already have a User ID from previous events on the College of Exploration campus then just log in - this will automatically register you!

If you are new to the College of Exploration please:
Register for a new User ID here.

"Registering" for a User ID via this link above will:

  • automatically JOIN you to the March event, and
  • give you a User ID for the College of Exploration Online Campus.
User ID:

You can use that same User ID to access other events and COSEE-West Online Community and all their past events!

Join us as we investigate tiny but toxic algae!

During the course, participants will have an opportunity to personally interact with marine biologists carrying out cutting edge research on harmful algae, marine technology experts who interpret satellite and instrument data to predict and track algae blooms, a marine mammal veterinarian and marine medical technicians who work to rehabilitate animals stricken with illness from harmful algae.

The course is designed especially for educators, with resources for classroom teachers and informal educators. This online workshop is FREE and available 24-7. Log on anytime to see the lectures, investigate the resources, ask questions, and try out activities. Each week we’ll post a new presentation and resources, and you can join discussions throughout the workshop.

Graduate Credit is optional. You can choose to earn one graduate credit for the course from Framingham State University, Massachusetts for $65.00. Credit participants must complete at least 12 hours online during the 3 weeks of the course and fulfill requirements as outlined on the syllabus. For credit information contact Pat Harcourt at or 213-740-4693.

Click here for Syllabus as a PDF.

Click here for Registration Form as a PDF.

*Harmful Algal examples:
Images above from CA Dept. of Health
(Pseudonitschia diatoms and Alexandrium chain)

About COSEE-West

COSEE WEST is a National Science Foundation sponsored program at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles and the College of Exploration.

We are a community-based ocean science education network of oceanographic researchers, K-12 educators, informal education centers and the general public. COSEE-West is the west coast hub for the National Science Foundation supported COSEE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) effort. The primary role of the COSEE network is to act as a catalytic, multi-faceted collaboration that integrates ongoing research in the ocean sciences with K-12 education and outreach.

COSEE-West public website
COSEE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence)

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