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