- Native to – Global.
- Invaded – Particular dinoflagellate species have invaded foreign waters, such as waters in Eastern Canada.
- Means of Invasion – The ballast water tanks of ships.
- Impact – Producing toxins which can kill other marine species and be transferred into filter feeder farmed fish causing drastic effects to the marine ecosystem and human health.
Dinoflagellates are a large group of over 2000 species of eukaryotic algae found in all marine environments around the world. The transportation of dinoflagellates in the ballast water tanks of ships has caused an invasion of many foreign dinoflagellate species in areas they would not usually be found. With warming water temperatures, the more tropical dinoflagellate’s now have the ability to survive in waters they wouldn’t have been able to prior. In particular, the spread of harmful dinoflagellates in Eastern Canadian waters have caused extreme effects to the marine ecosystem and to human health.
Once a large population of dinoflagellates becomes apparent, harmful algal blooms can take place, accumulating of more than a million cells per millimetre. This bloom is commonly called the red tide as it can turn the water red. Together, they can produce a dangerous toxin which has the ability to kill fish through suffocation and cause a build up in filter feeder marine species such as shellfish. This becomes a large problem as populations of native marine species which are important to the marine ecosystem start to significantly decrease. Dangerously, farmed fish such as shellfish that have consumed this toxin can pass the toxins onto humans, having the ability to cause fatal and nonfatal illnesses.