Friday, December 21, 2012

New potentially toxic algae turns up on Great Lakes beach

An algae that is potentially toxic has shown up on a
Michigan beach at Lake St. Clair. Image: Vijay Kannappan

A new species is apparently making its way onto Great Lakes beaches, and it is potentially toxic.

Native to the southeastern United States, it is a blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, called Lyngbya wollei. It was first found in the Great Lakes region in the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2005. Then it was spotted in Lake Erie in 2006.

Now it has been identified at Lake St. Clair Metropark north of Detroit, according to Wayne State University ecologist Donna Kashian.

Great Lakes Echo -
20 Dec 2012
L Mertz
Location: Lake St. Clair Metropark, Michigan, USA

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Keeping an eye on the Great Lakes canary

Ohio EPA biologist Scott Winkler is checking
on wildlife quality on the bottom of the
Black River, a Lake Erie tributary.
Back in the 1970′s, Lake Erie – often referred to as the Great Lakes’ “canary in the coal mine” – was closely monitored by government agencies. As lake health improved, that scrutiny was gradually withdrawn and funds diverted elsewhere. But with the advent of new problems, from dead zones and algae blooms to invasive species like Asian carp, there are again many eyes on the lake. And as independent producer Karen Schaefer reports, the samplers are coming up with some surprising discoveries.

Klei is the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Lake Erie manager. It’s her job to oversee a new three-year monitoring program to update conditions in the lake, funded by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. She’s out on the Black River, a Lake Erie tributary to take part in the latest sampling.

“And the purpose of this was to collect the water quality data to assess the current conditions of the lake, to help us be able to detect trends and changes as they happen” Klei said.

One of those changes has been massive harmful algae blooms, last seen in Lake Erie in the 1970′s. Those blooms have hurt water quality and cost lake users – from water treatment plants to charter boat captains – tens of thousands of dollars a year. Klei says the algae issue, along with other emerging challenges to Lake Erie’s health, have re-focused bi-national cooperation on lake monitoring in a way that’s never been seen before. She cites a recent water quality agreement signed this fall between the US and Canada.

Great Lakes Echo -
14 Dec 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Birders head to Lake Erie shores to spot species Sandy blew in from coast

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, birders are flocking to the south shore of Lake Erie with their binoculars particularly focused on the mouth of the Grand River.  Count Jim McCormac as one such dedicated warbler-watcher.

McCormac was taking a vacation day Wednesday as a result of the superstorm that hit the East Coast. And the avian education specialist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife could not be more happy.

McCormac wants to see what strange, exotic and uncommon bird species that Sandy has blown into the state. Added to these favorable weather events is the fact that many bird species are migrating now.

The News-Herald -
01 Nov 2012
JL Frischkorn

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Avian botulism killing hundreds of loons

Dead birds are washing up along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, among them, 300 loons.

Biologists believe the birds are being killed by botulism. The disease has been blamed in the deaths of many shorebirds in the Great Lakes region, but officials say it is rare to see this many loons affected.

Up North
18 Oct 2012
L Amstutz
Location: Sleeping Bear Dunes, - Map It

More Avian Botulism News

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Algae fighters get $16 million boost

Farm runoff fuels green algae blooms in Lake Erie that are
visible in satellite images. Photo: NOAA CoastWatch

Canadian officials Tuesday announced a $16 million investment to understand and control algae in the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Nutrient Initiative will focus on Lake Erie which is particularly vulnerable to toxic and nuisance algae. That’s a lot of money to address excessive phosphorus discharges from farming and sewers.

Is it enough?

To get a sense of the challenge, last week the Columbus Dispatch reported if 80 percent of the phosphorus that drains into Ohio’s Grand Lake were cut, it still would take 20 to 40 years to clear the water.

Great Lakes Echo
10 Oct 2012
D Poulson

Friday, October 12, 2012

Poll shows Wisconsinites value healthy Great Lakes

Given these politically charged times, it’s hard to get Wisconsin voters to agree on much.

But most state residents think the federal government should keep spending money to protect and restore the Great Lakes -- including erecting barriers to keep out Asian carp.

A poll released Monday shows that 75 percent of Wisconsin voters support continuing Great Lakes restoration funding. That includes 63 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of independents, and 84 percent of Democrats. Men are particularly supportive, with 81 percent supporting funding.

The full report is available here.

Support slips a bit, however, when voters are asked if Great Lakes funding should face a budget cut like everything else to reduce the federal deficit. Only half of respondents (49 percent) say restoration funding should be maintained even if every other program is being cut.

The Capital Times
02 Oct 2012
M Ivey

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New tool helps Great Lakes cities, businesses predict harmful algae

Rick Stumpf testing water for algae: NOAA scientist
Rick Stumpf shows local researchers what to look
for in detecting toxic algae. Credit: OSU’s Stone Lab
Audio Transcript:

LEAD IN: Last year’s record-setting Lake Erie algae bloom hurt many tourism businesses like charter fishing and resorts that depend on clean water and beaches. The high concentrations of toxins from the blue-green algae also meant cities like Toledo had to spend more money to clean up drinking water. This summer, federal researchers unveiled a new tool for forecasting seasonal algae blooms. Independent producer Karen Schaefer reports that scientists are hoping it can help cities and businesses across the Great Lakes and the nation plan ahead.

SCHAEFER: This year, the thick ooze of green slime that coated docks and bays in western Lake Erie in 2011 is gone. That’s largely thanks to the drought, which reduced rainfall and nutrient runoff from farms and cities. But National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher Rick Stumpf was taking no chances back in July, when he tested the water near Put-in-Bay in Lake Erie for chorophyll and phycocyanin, the pigment that’s produced by toxic blue-green algae.

Great Lakes Echo
08 Oct 2012
K Schaefer

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Second Lake Erie beach has toxic algae

Summer-like weather might be behind us, but toxic, blue-green algae are still sticking around.

State officials posted a new warning at Cleveland Lakefront State Park’s Euclid Beach this month.A Sept. 17 water test detected a liver toxin in the water, prompting officials to issue a warning four days later that swimming and wading are not recommended for older people, young children and those with weak immune systems.
Euclid is the second Lake Erie beach to get an algae warning this summer, following the beach at Maumee Bay State Park.

Similar warnings have been posted at Grand Lake St. Marys and three Buckeye Lake beaches.

The Columbus Dispatch
27 Sep 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

EPA Awards Grants In Michigan And Ohio To Improve Water Quality And Reduce Algal Blooms In The Great Lakes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced 11 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants for projects in Michigan and Ohio to improve water quality and reduce excess nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms in Great Lakes watersheds.

...“Reducing nutrient pollution begins on land,” said Patty Birkholz, Director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes. “Working with our farmers to decrease agricultural sources of nitrogen and phosphorous will lead to healthier rivers and lakes, and in turn stronger coastal communities. The Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and the Department of Environmental Quality are elated that the EPA recognizes the extraordinary opportunity in these areas, and are thankful for its leadership on this critical issue.”

"This is another example of the benefits of a federal-state-local partnership working together to improve Lake Erie," said Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally.

<ENews Park Forest -
 27 Sep 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bird viruses under study pose no threat to humans

When ducks and geese stop in at the Lake Erie marshes for a rest or to catch dinner, they could pick up a case of the flu. Or, they might be leaving the virus behind for other birds to catch.

Two Ohio State University professors are studying waterfowl influenza in Lake Erie marshes in the Port Clinton area, including Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Benton Township and Magee Marsh state wildlife area in Carroll Township. They are examining what types of flu viruses lurk in the marshes, how long they survive, how they affect waterfowl and whether the spread of these viruses can be stopped.

"If a dangerous virus were introduced into North America by wild birds, we would have a model to use to assess the risks before the virus spread into or beyond the marshes in Ohio," Professor Richard Slemmons of OSU's Department of Veterinary Preventative Medicine said in an Ohio Sea Grant College Program article last year.

News-Messenger -
25 Sep 2012
Location: Lake Erie, Port Clinton area, Ohio, USA

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More tests suggest Lake Erie fish die-off was natural causes, MOE says

The Ontario Ministry of Environment reiterated Friday
that thousands of fish died because of a naturally occurring
lake inversion rather than a spill.
(The Windsor Star-Ministry of Environment Photo)
Samples from the dead fish that littered beaches along Lake Erie Labour Day weekend showed no signs of bacterial infections, botulism or a fish disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia, Ministry of Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan said Friday.

“At this time all the information we have suggests the fish were killed due to natural causes,” she said.

The tens of thousands of fish that came up on 40 kilometres of Lake Erie shoreline in Chatham-Kent and Elgin County Sept. 1 seem to have been caught up in water with low oxygen levels. Jordan said strong southwest winds rippled over the lake causing the colder lake bottom water to come up. The bottom of the lake is where the lowest levels of oxygen exist because that’s where plants decompose and use up a lot of the oxygen, she said. So the fish end up gulping for air and suffocating and being pushed to shore either dead or still gulping for air.

“We see it every couple years in Lake Erie,” Jordan said.

Initial field samples and then water test results last week pointed to natural causes and the MOE has repeatedly said there was not a manure spill or any signs of contaminants found in the water.

The Windsor Star -
14 Sep 2012
S Hill
Location: View location of cases reported in the news on Lake Erie
on the Global Wildlife Disease News Map

Monday, September 17, 2012

Avian botulism showing up in birds again

After a quiet 2011, Antrim County propery owners along the shores of Grand Traverse Bay are once again being asked to keep their eyes open for dead waterfowl and shorebirds on their beaches with the re-appearance of deadly avian botulism believed to be responsible for the deaths of a number of birds along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan in recent weeks.

Loons, scoters, grebes, and piping plovers are among thousands of birds found dead, with Type E botulism confirmed as the cause of death by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in bird carcasses collected from several locations along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Antrim Review -
06 Sep 2012
L Gallagher
Location: Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, USA - Map It

Friday, September 14, 2012

Scientist warns of heavier storms, more algae

An increasingly warm climate is worsening the problem of harmful Great Lakes algae blooms by boosting the intensity of spring rains that wash phosphorus into the waters, a scientist said Wednesday during a conference for advocates and policymakers.

The trend is likely to continue over the coming century, heightening the urgency to control runoff of dissolved phosphorus that promotes excessive algae growth, said Don Scavia, director of the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute.

..."Climate change is likely to make reducing phosphorous loads even more difficult in the future than it is now, which will likely lead to even more toxic algae blooms and larger dead zones unless more conservation is undertaken," he said.

Daily Press -
13 Sep 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Avian botulism reported by Watershed Council

Photo courtesy of Harbor Light News
After a relatively quiet season in 2011, dead birds are again appearing on the Lake Michigan shoreline, and this year much earlier than anticipated.

“Calls have been coming in for the past two weeks with reports of migratory waterfowl washing up on local beaches” said Kevin Cronk, Research and Monitoring Coordinator for Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. “While the numbers are small, it is much earlier in the season than usual. We don’t typically have this many reports until late September to early October.

We are just at the beginning of ‘avian botulism season’ and calls this early may indicate a dramatic increase in bird mortality in the next few months.”

Harbor Light News -
05 Sep 2012
Watershed Council
Location:  Lake Michigan (Emmet Co.), Michigan, USA - Map It  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lake Eerie Mystery: Dead Birds, Fish, Wash Up By The Thousands Causing Massive Stink

Photo courtesy of News Gather
Lake Eerie is living up to its name. The Ontario side of the Great Lake is the source of a major mystery as thousands of dead fish and birds have been washing up on shore. The story seems eerily (no pun intended) reminiscent of the massive animal die offs of early 2011, but it's not clear if there is any connection.

Apparently, the fish and birds starting showing up on Friday and causing a massive stink as they did so.

... Dr. Colby said "there are other possible causes for the dead fish such as a fish disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia and Type E botulism, a bacterial toxin which would kill birds that feed on dead fish. He said he's already seen a sick gull near the dead fish but that is not conclusive evidence."

News Gather -
06 Sep 2012
L Shaw

Location: Lake Erie, Ontario, Canada - Map It   

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Scientists tackle Lake Erie algae: Toxic bloom is one of many environmental problems facing lake

Algae like this has become more common on Lake Erie as farm,
lawn and other phosphorus runoffs end up in the lake.
(Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Scientists gathered this week to discuss the health of the Great Lakes said Monday that recent environmental threats plaguing Lake Erie — from low water levels to the possibility of Asian carp — are diverting attention from a larger, looming threat: toxic algae blooms.

So far this year, water levels have been well below their historical averages. Scientists recently discovered DNA evidence of Asian carp in the lake for the first time. And a significant fish kill along the shore near Cleveland in July was repeated last week on the Canadian side of the lake near Chatham.

But, as recently as last year, scientists tracked a massive toxic algae bloom that, from space, appeared to cover almost the entire western third of the lake. The dangerous blooms have become more common.

Detroit News - www.detroitnews
11 Sep 2012
J Lynch

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Toxic Erie algae bloom worst in decades

Last year was the worst season of toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie in decades and the International Joint Commission wants to know how much that hurt the economy on both sides of the border.

"It could easily be tens of millions (of dollars)," John Nevin, the public affairs adviser for the IJC's Great Lakes regional office in Windsor, said Monday.

... Research on the algal blooms is expected to be done at the end of the year and a draft report will be released in the summer of 2013. The final report with specific recommendations is expected by October 2013.

...The concern with climate change is if water temperatures in the lake get warmer and warmer it could increase the blue-green algae growth. The warmth and extra nutrients boost the growth and decay of plants and, as the algae rots, it robs the lake of oxygen which can kill fish.

Algal blooms haven't been a huge problem so far this summer in Lake Erie because it was so dry there was less run-off of fertilizer, Nevin said. There has been one algal bloom wash up in the Monroe, Mich., area last week, he said. The blooms usually appear in the late summer and fall.

The Windsor Star -
28 Aug 2012
S Hill
Location: Lake Erie, Canada

Monday, August 27, 2012

Thousands of fish dead in Cuyahoga River

Thousands of fish were found dead in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Ohio Division of Wildlife is reporting a fish kill in the Cuyahoga River.

About 2,000 dead fish, mostly minnows, suckers, and carp, were found by investigators this past weekend. The fish were in a fairly advanced state of decomposition, according to a source.

22 Aug 2012
Location: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio, USA - See on Geonames map 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Algae blooms close Dunton, Holland State Park beaches

If the water's green, don't go in.That's what the Ottawa County Health Department is telling beach-goers after issuing a no-body contact advisories on Tuesday for Dunton Park and Holland State Park.

Blue-green algae is what causes the green tint seen in these locations in Lake Macatawa. The no-body contact advisory does not include Lake Michigan.

...The hot, dry weather this summer has created an environment where algae can thrive, said Randy Rapp, environmental health supervisor for Ottawa County.

"The lake is warmer, too, and the lack of rain means we don't get fresh water coming in, like we would normally," Rapp said. "Plus, the water has been clear up until now, which lets all that sunlight through."

... Rapp said it's difficult to tell how long the algae blooms will stick around. "I wish I could say it'll only be a couple days, but a lot is dependent on rainfall and temperatures," he said. "We have experienced algae in the past, but not for this length of time. It's been at Dunton Park for an especially long time, which is different than normal, because it usually lasts a few days."

21 Aug 2012
M Schmidt
Location:  Lake Macatawa, Michigan, USA


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cottagers look to clay remedy for blue-green algae

Waiting on provincial approval after 10 years of lake water looking 'like green paint'

The perennial problem of blue-green algae is popping up again in some northern Ontario lakes this summer. And many waterfront property owners have their eyes on a bay of Lake Huron where a possible solution is in the works.

Roughly 10 years of blue-green algae blooms and warnings about drinking, swimming or boating in the water have prompted cottagers on Sturgeon Bay near Pointe Au Baril to look for a fix.

... The concerned residents found Phoslock — clay infused with chemicals that would be dumped into the bay to neutralize phosphorus, one of the causes of the algae. The province has yet to okay the idea, however.

...So far, despite a hot summer, the number of blooms in Ontario is about the same as this time last year, ....

CBC News -
03 Aug 2012
Location: Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rare algae for Lake Superior shows up near Cornucopia

Samples of a “green scum” reported by visitors to Lake Superior beaches from Cornucopia to Sandy Bay on July 14-15 were confirmed to contain a species of blue-green algae. By July 15, the algae bloom was breaking up

Many species of blue-green algae, including those collected from Myer’s Beach, are capable of producing toxins. Toxins are not produced all of the time and there is no easy way to tell when blue-green algae are producing them and when they are not, according to water quality experts. The samples collected at Myer’s Beach July 14-15 did not contain any toxins.

...Blue-green algae blooms are extremely unusual in Lake Superior because the water is generally very low in nutrients and cold. However, the floods in June flushed nutrients and sediment from the land into the lake. Combined with the warm weather, conditions may have been just right for the algae to multiply. The species that was identified at Myers Beach has been known to “bloom” in other nutrient poor lakes under the right conditions.

Superior Telegram -
27 Jul 2012
Location: Cornucopia, Wisconsin, USA - View on GeoNames Map

Friday, July 20, 2012

Harmful algae bloom reaches eastern Lake Erie

... According to Susan Bell, a storm water sanitarian with the Lake County Health District, harmful algae bloom, previously limited to the western end of Lake Erie, has moved eastward this year. She points out that there have been no beach closings in Lake County, however. The microcystin toxin has been detected, but at concentration levels below the threshold that would endanger health. (Those levels are set by the Ohio Department of Health.) -
17 Jul 2012
S Woodthorpe
Location: Lake Erie, Ohio, USA

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2 sturgeon found washed ashore off Lake Huron

At least two lake sturgeon, which are designated as a threatened species in Michigan, recently have been found washed ashore along Lake Huron.

Lynn Whittenburg, of Lakeport, told The Times Herald in Port Huron for a Saturday story that she found a 3-foot-long sturgeon this week on a beach. A 4-foot-long sturgeon also washed ashore in Fort Gratiot, northeast of Detroit.

"Three at one time isn't something that I get really concerned about, but it does have me kind of watching what's going on," Thomas said. "There have been instances in the past where lake sturgeon have turned up in higher numbers than that, and it has been linked to botulism."

If a dozen or so of the large fish begin to turn up over the next week or so, Thomas said he would start an investigation.

Petoskey News -
15 Jul 2012
Location: Fort Gratiot - Map It ; Lake Huron - Map It , Michigan, USA

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

$3M allocated by Ohio to fight lake's algae blooms

Up to $3 million in state funding has been allocated to combat harmful algae infestation in Lake Erie, with several hundred thousand dollars committed to starting a program this month to help farmers reduce hazardous runoff during rainstorms, officials said Tuesday.

About $200,000 of the Healthy Lake Erie Fund has been appropriated for a program of soil testing, nutrient monitoring, application certification, and installation of controlled drainage devices on Ohio farmland that will help curb phosphorous runoff into lakes and tributaries, said Karl Gebhardt, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The money was put forward to match a $900,000 federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Lake Erie Restoration Initiative Fund for which state officials have applied. -
11 Jul 2012
R Redfern

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Event Highlights Lake Erie’s First Seasonal Algae Forecast

On July 5, NOAA and partners officially announced the seasonal harmful algal bloom (HAB) forecast for Lake Erie, the first in the Great Lakes region, during an event hosted by Ohio State University Sea Grant’s Stone Laboratory. Following on the heels of the worst HAB season in decades, NOAA predicts the 2012 season will be a mild one, a welcome change for residents and managers who have seen increased HABs in the region since 2008.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Beach Manager’s Manual Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful algal blooms, commonly referred to as HABs, are an environmentally complex problem throughout the world. HABs can cause fish kills, foul up nearby coastlines and produce conditions that pose health risks to aquatic life, as well as humans.

In a joint effort, Michigan Sea Grant and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant authored the publication, The Beach Manager’s Manual: Harmful Algal Blooms. This eight-page manual provides useful information to help beach managers and other community members prevent HABs and keep their beaches safe so that these recreational areas can be enjoyed by all.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Monitoring Begins on the Beaches of Lake Superior

Monitoring of Lake Superior beaches will begin after Memorial Day. The Minnesota Department of Health will be monitoring the water quality along the Lake Superior shoreline from Duluth to Grand Marais, which includes 39 public beaches.

Staff will be checking the water to detect the presence of E.coli bacteria or other harmful pathogens or contamination. The samples will be analyzed once a week from the beaches, while samples from the most heavily used beaches will be analyzed twice weekly.

The results will be posted immediately to the telephone hotline and beach website at

Northland's News Center - 
21 May 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Harmful algal blooms can cause rash, illness

It's a green, blue, brown or black slime that tends to foam and sometimes gives off a foul smell. And it could make you sick.

It's blue-green algae, and it's been a growing problem on Lake Erie in recent years. Last year it spread to the largest-reaching plume on record, and weather conditions could make this year equally bad or worse, said Doug Kane, assistant professor of science and math at Defiance College.

The -
02 Apr 2012
K Smith Horn

Will plague of toxic algae accelerate a focus on Lake Erie?

Western Lake Erie is on fire -- metaphorically speaking.

At a recent University of Toledo College of Law workshop, speakers implored Michigan and Ohio residents to see the emerging parallels between western Lake Erie's record algae outbreaks in 2010 and 2011 and Cleveland's 1969 Cuyahoga River fire.

Their point: Sometimes it takes a major embarrassment to galvanize a region.

Public outrage over algae is finally getting through to the right people, but meaningful action has been a long time coming. The degree of commitment has yet to be seen, especially as the two states attempt to promote a more business-friendly atmosphere.

Western Lake Erie needs to become a stronger focal point for fertilizer runoff control, just as Cleveland was the focal point for better sewage treatment after the Cuyahoga caught fire. Cleveland lived with the embarrassment of being called the "mistake on the lake" for years.

Toledo Blade -
03 Apr 2012
T Henry

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Algae growing under Lake Erie ice spur dead zones

Clarkson University biologist Michael Twiss and other Great Lakes scientists have discovered there is a lot going on under the ice.

“When I was working up in Canada, I won a grant to use the coast guard vessel to study for a week,” Twiss said. “I wanted to use it as late in the season as possible, which was November. We found a lot of interesting stuff. “

Among the things he discovered is a high concentration of algae in Lake Erie during the winter. That’s unlike spring when there are almost no algae present.

Environment Canada and Canadian Coast Guard personnel recover a sediment trap from an icebreaker on an ice-covered Lake Erie in February 2010. Sediment traps are placed on the bottom of a lake to measure the how much algae sink to the bottom. In this case, algae are thriving in winter below ice. Photo by Michael Twiss, Clarkson University

And it is an important discovery because algae growth has been linked to the creation of Lake Erie dead zones devoid of oxygen.

...“The amount of algae in the winter shows that we have to study Lake Erie during the winter time in order to understand it in the summertime,” Twiss said. “It’s hard because there isn’t any data to compare it to and it takes a while to create a hypothesis. There is almost no data from the lake in the winter time.”

The information is especially important for efforts to shrink the dead zone.

Great Lakes Echo -
24 Jan 2012
A Kasben

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lake Ontario Algae Bloom News

More algal blooms in Ontario's lakes

... In a scientific paper entitled Algal blooms in Ontario, Canada: increases in reports since 1994, Dr. Jenny Winter and co-authors reported that public reporting of algal blooms in Ontario lakes has increased significantly from 1994 to 2009.

Further investigation by the team revealed that more than half of the reports in any year were for blooms of blue-green algae. This is a concern because some strains, of some species of blue-green algae, are potentially toxic.

...A rise in reports of algal blooms in Ontario is consistent with the observation that algal blooms are increasing in lakes throughout the world. Nutrient enrichment (in other words, increasing additions of phosphorus to lakes) is the leading cause globally, with blooms further exacerbated by climate change.
In Ontario, higher phosphorus concentrations are indeed part of the story. There are lakes near Sudbury, for example, where increased shoreline development and urbanization have contributed to higher phosphorus levels, and consequently, algal blooms.

However, in recent years, blue-green algal blooms have also been observed in lakes with low or declining phosphorus concentrations, suggesting that phosphorus is not the whole story.

Cottage Country Now -
18 Jan 2012
A Paterson

Cited Journal Article
Lake and Reservoir Management. 2011; 27:105–112. doi:10.1080/07438141.2011.557765
JG White et al.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lake Erie Algae Bloom News

Senator seeks EPA help with harmful algae in Lake Erie

Toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory 
Great Lakes biologist Jim Grazio wouldn't expect harmful algal blooms in Presque Isle Bay and nearby Lake Erie now. But that doesn't mean they couldn't be a problem here later.

"Things seem to be getting worse in the last decade or so," Grazio said. "HABs seem to be starting earlier, persisting longer and increasing in frequency."

These dense populations of algae, which contain toxins and can harm fish and humans, have especially been growing in the western basin of Lake Erie, around bays in Ohio, prompting a Pennsylvania senator to ask the Environmental Protection Agency for help. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey sent a letter to the EPA in December, encouraging the agency to work to improve the water quality in Lake Erie.

...An EPA regional administrator responded with a letter this month saying Jackson shares Casey's concerns. Susan Hedman wrote that in Jackson's capacity as chairwoman of the Great Lakes Inter-Agency Task Force, she recently identified "the reduction of algae blooms" as a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative priority.

Go Erie -
21 Jan 2012
D Massing