In order to verify whether harmful algal blooms increased since 1979, a long-term project for the study of harmful algal blooms in Mazatlán Bay began 25 years ago (1979-2003). Observations were done daily and results indicate five trend types: I) years without discoloration related to El Niño events; II) years with days of sudden occurrence of discoloration, related to the release of accumulated energy after El Niño events; III) years with similar number of discoloration events (days); IV) years with a progressive decrease of the occurrence (days) of discoloration events; V) years with gradual increase of discoloration events. The annual mean average of discoloration is of 25.3 days. Ninety-six discoloration events were recorded during year 2000, and represent the highest number of events in the last 25 years. Discoloration events are more common in March (174 days), harmful and toxic blooms included. This indicates continuity in the occurrence of the highest content of microalgae, and therefore, it is concluded that they play an important role for a better understanding of the environmental deterioration undergone by the coastal zone due to an increase of harmful and toxic microalgae blooms.
Keywords: Discoloration, bioindicator, harmful algal bloom (HAB’s), red tide, México