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Scientists Raise New Concerns About Toxic Algae Bloom

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The toxic algae bloom that left this year's California crab season in limbo could be even worse than initially thought.

The toxic algae bloom could be digging deeper in the food chain and affecting more sea life than just Dungeness crabs. On Thursday night, scientists were expressing concerns about anchovies.

"We've seeing toxin above the regulatory limit in the filet, the meat of the anchovy, said UC Santa Cruz Professor Ocean Sciences Raphael Kudela. So the California Department of Public Health would say, 'Decapitate it, gut it and you're fine.' Turns out that is not true."

Researchers are using a new tool to monitor the algae levels that scientists call "Lab in a Can." Dozens of them have been placed off the coast.

The "Labs in a Can" are battery powered. They collect water data and use a cell phone link to send back daily reports on the acid concentration.

Scientists say they've made another surprising discovery in the Bay Area's local salmon.

"It does get into the tissues of salmon. We looked at both coho salmon and king salmon and we found it in the tissue of both. [But] well below the regulatory levels and still safe for human consummation."

There was some good news Thursday night; the toxic algae bloom is getting smaller. But it still hasn't reduced enough to make crab safe to eat yet.

Scientist say large El Niños have been associated with large algae blooms. If conditions persist, and the scientists believe they may, the Bay Area could be in for another big bloom next year.

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