Toll-free hotline for Harmful Algal Bloom information: (888) 238-6154
Virginia's Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force includes representatives from the Virginia Department of Health, the Marine Resources Commission, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Old Dominion University. These agencies and institutions will participate in responding if a Harmful Algal Bloom occurs in Virginia.
Fish kills, fish with lesions or suspected Pfiesteria-related events in Virginia waters should be reported as soon as possible to DEQ.
Once notified, the DEQ responder determines whether an investigation is necessary. If so, DEQ measures dissolved oxygen, pH and temperature; conducts visual observation of the water for discoloration, or dead or dying fish; and collects samples to test for Pfiesteria complex organisms. Assistance on reaching investigation sites is provided by the Marine Resources Commission. Based on the initial investigation results, DEQ then decides whether to activate the Pfiesteria response team.
If the DEQ on-scene coordinator activates the response team, the team collects data on fish lesions, and sends samples to the appropriate laboratory for analysis. Fish samples are analyzed by VIMS, water and sediment samples for Pfiesteria complex organisms are analyzed by ODU, and other water quality samples are analyzed by the state Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services.
All information is sent to the Virginia Health Department as quickly as possible for determination of whether a public health advisory or other action is warranted. The status of water body restrictions is determined by the Health Department, and the Marine Resources Commission enforces any water body restriction required by the Health Department.