Mary Silver, Ph.D.
University of California, Santa Cruz
Historical Knowledge of Phytoplankton Toxins
Wednesday — July 18, 2012
Pacific Forum — 3:00 p.m.
Throughout human history, coastal peoples have consumed shellfish and thereby been exposed to toxins produced by the local phytoplankton. In this seminar, I review information from medical, anthropological and paleontological literature that provides a context for modern oceanographic research on toxic algae in coastal waters. The presentation will focus on historical knowledge from California and the US west coast, as well as insights from my interviews with fishermen in East Africa, concluding with a recent discovery about a degenerative disease likely resulting from cumulative food chain exposure to algal toxins.