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 As lake health improved, that scrutiny was gradually withdrawn and funds diverted elsewhere.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