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Rusty leaves algal bloom 'the size of Tasmania'

Thursday March 7, 2013 - 15:18 EDT

Scientists from the University of Western Australia say they have been surprised by the impact of Cyclone Rusty on the sea off the Pilbara coast.

Special instruments have revealed turbidity levels in the ocean increased to unprecedented levels as a result of the storm.

Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi says Rusty left behind a huge algal bloom that can be seen from space.

He says he does not believe the natural bloom will impact on the Pilbara coast.

"The winds are probably offshore and the tides are taking it offshore, so it's probably not going to impact the coastal region but you have to remember that this is a natural event, it's probably been happening for a long time or every tropical cyclone but we are now able to document it," he said.

"This is the first time that we have managed to do that.

"So all this stirring up of the seabed, brought a lot of nutrients into the water column and created an algae bloom.

"This algae bloom now is the size of Tasmania, so it's pretty large.

"Now we can actually see the effect of that big bloom in the Pilbara."


© ABC 2013

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