SEATTLE — Scientists believe a Pacific Ocean toxic algal bloom could be the largest ever off the U.S. West Coast, according to Reuters.com.

The algal bloom stretches from California to Washington state, noted the article. It first appeared in May.

California’s Monterey Bay has some of the highest levels of domoic acid observed by scientists, stated the article. The chemical is produced by the algal bloom and can be fatal to humans.

"The domoic acid levels are extremely high right now in Monterey Bay, and the event is occurring as far north as Washington state," Raphael Kudela, professor of ocean sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz, said in the article. "It appears this will be one of the most toxic and spatially largest events we've had in at least a decade."

Shellfish and other wildlife are at risk for containing higher levels of domoic acid, reported the article. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says the toxin has killed several people and sickened more than 100. The toxin can interfere with the nervous system in humans.

Washington closed crab fishing on its Oregon border due to the elevated levels, shared the article. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel has taken a team of researchers to discover whether the bloom’s size is related to warmer than average water temperatures.

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