Ranston, Emma R; Webber, DaleF; Larsen, J
Author Affiliation, Ana.
The first description of the potentially toxic dinoflagellate, Alexandrium minutum in Hunts Bay, Kingston Harbour, Jamaica
Date of Publication
The occurrence and morphology of the potentially toxic dinoflagellate species Alexandrium minutum found for the first time in Jamaica, were examined and described by light and scanning electron microscopy. Classical morphological examinations of whole cells, the thecal plate pattern of intact cells and more importantly the structure of individual thecal plates of squashed cells, were conducted in an attempt to positively identify the species. Characteristics such as a tear-drop shaped apical pore plate with a comma-shaped apical pore and no anterior attachment pore; a narrow sixth precingular plate; a narrow anterior sulcal plate longer than or approximately as long as it is wide; and a posterior sulcal plate wider than long, confirmed the Jamaican species as A. minutum. This dinoflagellate which produces potent neurotoxins responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans in many parts of the World, as well as mass mortality of various marine flora and fauna, was identified in water samples collected during an extensive bloom of the species in the brackish to saline water body of Hunts Bay, an estuarine arm of Kingston Harbour, Jamaica in August 1994. The highest cell concentration was 4.6×105cellsl-1, a concentration which far exceeds acceptable concentrations (<103cellsl-1) of PSP-toxin producing A. minutum in several countries including: Spain and Denmark. No PSP human symptoms were reported during the bloom; however it was accompanied by a large kill of small pelagic fish extending across a third of the bay. Since then, smaller blooms of A. minutum have occurred with the most recent in February and April 2004. Hunts Bay is an important fishing, shrimping and to some extent oyster/mussel collection area and provides an important source of livelihood and food for many fishermen in nearby fishing communities as well as an important source of food for members of other communities. Although there are no known records of human illness due to PSP in Jamaica, the occurrence and blooming in Jamaican waters of this potentially toxic dinoflagellate, is great cause for concern.....