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1961, Monterey Bay, ASP

It is believed that Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic film, “The Birds,” was inspired by an actual event that occurred in California in August of 1961. During this event, thousands of birds along the North Monterey shore were reported to display erratic behavior, including vomiting and death. While the cause of this mortality was unknown at the time, it has been discovered that toxic Pseudo-nitzschia were present in abundance in the phytoplankton community. In subsequent years, upwelling events along the California coast have been shown to drive Pseudo-nitzschia blooms, resulting in similar instances of erratic behavior and mortality in seabirds. Read more about this event here.