Phytoplankton blooms can cause acute effects on marine ecosystems either due to their production of endogenous toxins or due to their enormous biomass leading to major impacts on local economies and public health. Despite years of effort, the causes of harmful algal blooms (HAB) are still not fully understood. Our hypothesis is that bacteria that produce photoactive siderophores may provide a bioavailable form of iron to commensally associated phytoplankton, which could in turn affect algal growth and bloom dynamics. Here we report both laboratory-based studies using binary cultures of the dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedrum, a major HAB species, with Marinobacter algicola DG893, a phytoplankton-associated bacterium that produces the photoactive siderophore vibrioferrin and analysis of field collected data linking seawater iron concentrations, HAB phytoplankton numbers and bacterial populations. Together these results support the notion of a carbon for iron mutualism in some bacterial-algal interactions.