A gigantic, toxic algal bloom that stretches from southern California to Alaska has forced numerous fisheries along the West Coast to shutter, in an unprecedented development that scientists warn could portend what’s to come as the world’s oceans continue warming due to climate change.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said this week it is mobilizing scientists to gather more data on the bloom, which it called “extensive” and “harmful.”

“While localized blooms of marine algae that naturally produce domoic acid are common in spring, the bloom that began earlier this year has grown into the largest and most severe in more than a decade,” warned the agency. “Sardines, anchovy, and other fish that feed on the algae and other microorganisms known as plankton can accumulate the toxin, in turn poisoning birds and sea lions that feed on them.”

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