Algae are a natural part of most freshwater and marine environments, and in some cases algal blooms are natural phenomena that other species in the ecosystem are adapted to deal with. However, in many parts of the world algal blooms are increasing due to human activities, and this can have a negative impact on wildlife as well as human health. Many algal blooms are triggered by the presence of extra nutrients in the water that allows algae populations to explode – and these nutrients may come from synthetic fertilizers that make their way into the watershed. Global warming may also be contributing to increased incidence of algal blooms, creating conditions that favor the explosive growth of algae. Algal blooms harm other aquatic organisms partly because decaying algae subtract oxygen from the water, leading to low-oxygen conditions where fish and other animals may be unable to survive. Some algae that contribute to blooms also produce toxins that harm both animals and people.
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