Regional monitoring occurs at piers along southern California (Scripps Pier, top) and consists of net tows (bottom right) for potential HAB species (Alexandrium catenella, bottom left).

Monitoring for harmful algal blooms (HAB) occurs at eight piers along the California coastline:

  • -Santa Cruz Wharf
  • -Monterey Wharf
  • -Cal Poly Pier in Avila Beach
  • -Stearn's Wharf and Goleta Pier in Santa Barbara
  • -Santa Monica Pier
  • -Newport Beach Pier
  • -Scripps Pier in La Jolla

A map of current observations is available for the region here.

The HAB groups of greatest concern to California are Pseudo-nitzschia and Alexandrium, since some species can produce potent algal toxins that can be transferred through the food web to higher organisms such as marine mammals and humans.

Water samples and net tows are collected once per week to monitor for HAB species, and naturally occurring algal toxins, as well as water temperature, salinity, and nutrients.


The goals of this program are to collect comparable data at five regional stations, provide timely updates on HAB events, and aid in understanding the timing, extent, and impact of these events on humans as well as the ecosystem.

  • » Monitor for specific phytoplankton and algal toxins.
  • » Provide weekly online updates of potential HAB events.
  • » Coordinate sampling parameters, methods, and data output for monitoring HAB events and coastal water quality.
  • » Contribute to the statewide phytoplankton and shellfish monitoring program for the California Department of Public Health. For information on statewide closures and monitoring efforts see: