Lake Erie toxic algal bloom the worst in decades!

16 October 2011

Not too long ago an impression was created that nutrient attenuation for Lake Erie was having the desired effect – i.e. reducing the frequency and intensity of noxious algal blooms.  This all seems to have changed dramatically in the last while.  Between the mid-1960s and 1990, phosphorus levels dropped sharply after efforts were made to change farming practices and take phosphorus out of detergents. But in 1995, levels began going up again, leading to huge blooms in Lake Erie starting about eight years ago.

Lake Erie's persistant blue-green algal bloom (Source: TreeHugger)

Pure Michigan is a slogan used in the Great Lakes State, to bring in tourists and celebrate the beauty of nature. You probably won’t be seeing these images in any Pure Michigan ad campaign. They’re of algae, including some of the toxic kind. Stuff so big and nasty that you can see it from space. Be happy that you’re not close enough to smell it when it washes up on the shore and starts to rot.

Saginaw Bay (Lake Erie) (Source: TreeHugger)

At least one local boater says his wake last weekend looked like “pea soup”. This after large algae blooms formed on Lake Erie in the Cleveland area in the past few weeks.

For interest, call this up on GoogleEarth and measure how long this lake is, end to end.  Then you will realize how big this bloom really is!

The whole lake! (Source: Clear Channel)

In the UK, a Hucknall vet is warning pet owners to be extra vigilant after treating three local dogs for suspected poisoning.  The cases were all discovered at the Orchard House Veterinary Centre on Vine Terrace inside one week.  It is feared the animals had been affected by the mysterious seasonal canine illness (SCI).

In the last two years, 11 dogs have died in Nottinghamshire as a result of SCI. Daniella McCready, clinical director of Orchard House, said: “We have seen a similar problem during the last few years when dogs have been walked in certain local woods during September, resulting in vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and kidney failure. Unfortunately, some dogs have died in previous years.”

Previous investigations have failed to identify the exact cause, but blue-green algae, which grows in ponds and lakes, has been suggested as a possible trigger.

Dogs do not need to drink infected water to be affected, but merely have to walk in the infected areas and then lick their paws.

And lastly in Australia (and who got an humiliating thrashing today on the rugby field?), authorities are assuring residents Lake Ainsworth is safe despite the discovery of blue-green algae.  While high levels of the algae can be harmful to humans, the Regional Algal Coordinating Committee says the levels at the Lennox Head lake are not concerning.


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