Blue-green algae responsible for dog deaths at Lake Ellsworth

20 May 2012

The first reported animal death incident from the US occurred this week in Oklahoma at Lake Ellsworth.  Two dogs died soon after ingesting algal scum at the lake.  Very sad to hear and lets hope that the unfortunate loss of two beloved pets leads to a greater level of  public awareness about the causes and effects of nutrient enrichment in lakes and rivers worldwide!

Kansas issues algal warnings [Source: KansasCityInfoZine]

Kansas has issued Public Health Warnings for four lakes plagued by blue-green algal blooms – banning direct contact with the water.  The affected lakes are:

  • Memorial/Veterans Lake – Great Bend, Barton County
  • Marion Reservoir – Marion, Marion County
  • Marion County Lake – Marion, Marion County
  • Winfield City Lake – Winfield, Cowley County

These warnings require that the following precautions be taken:

  • Don’t let people, pets and livestock drink untreated lake water
  • Don’t swim, wade or engage in other activities with full body contact of lake water, including skiing or jet-skiing
  • Clean fish and rinse with clean water, consume only the fillet portion, and discard all other parts
  • Do not allow pets or livestock to eat dried algae
  • If lake water contacts skin or pet fur, wash with clean potable water as soon as possible
  • Avoid areas of visible algae accumulation

Toronto expects increase in algal blooms [Source: HuffingtonPost].

Scientists in Ontario, Canada, are predicting that the expected hotter-than-normal summer this year will bring an increase in problematical algal blooms. Amazingly, from the same state comes a report that the freshwater Experimental Lakes Area research programme is being shut down due to a lack of funds!

Sources told CBC News that staff were told on Thursday that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would no longer run the facility and all staff associated with the ELA will receive ‘affected letters’, and no new experiments will be initiated.

The Environmental Lakes Area was started in 1968. It’s a series of 58 pristine lakes that have been used for ground breaking research.

This is where scientists, led by Dr. David Schindler, discovered that phosphates in detergents and household products were causing lakes to turn green with algae. It led to international changes in ingredients for those products.

Mind-boggling but, hey, this happened in South Africa 20 years ago and we have yet to recover from what was a singularly-stupid decision (search Droplets for more on this if you are interested).

Lake Burley Griffin (Oz, ACT) has been closed due to cyanobacteria – this late in the season!  Interesting! [Source: Prime7]

Lake Burley Griffin is closed to swimmers due to high levels of blue-green algae.

The National Capital Authority said the lake is closed to activities that involves whole-body water contact or submersion of the head. These include swimming, diving and windsurfing.

Activities such as rowing, fishing, boating and canoeing are still permitted.

ACT Health said symptoms of blue-green algae exposure include skin irritation, flu-like symptoms and gastrointestinal illness.

The Captain Cook Memorial Jet will remain off as winds can create fine mists and cause jet water to travel to areas around the lake and potentially exposing the public to algae.

Pet owners should not allow their animals to swim in or drink lake water.

There has been an appeal for a re-think on how this lake is managed (see link here).

Gippsland Lakes workshop [Source: Victoria Government]

Staying in Australia, Droplets readers will recall all the posts on algal blooms in the Gippsland Lakes.  With true Australian efficiency and dedication, a workshop was recently held to discuss the happenings and what to do in future – i.e. a more than decent response to a series of events that caused a lot of economic harm.

The blue-green algae bloom that affected the Gippsland Lakes from December last year through to late April this year was the focus of a workshop at Lakes Entrance yesterday.

Consistent with other emergency incidents, the purpose of the workshop was to bring relevant parties together to discuss the response to the bloom and share common learnings to improve future response.

More than 80 representatives from agencies and industries associated with and impacted by the bloom, including representatives from the commercial fishing and tourism industries, were invited to the workshop.

Importantly participants recognised that the collaboration between government agencies and local industry groups effectively helped protect public health during the bloom.

Some of the key areas discussed included:

  • Community and stakeholder awareness of blue-green algae, including threats to human health and measures available to build better understanding.
  • What can be done to better prepare the public, industry and regulators for future algal blooms.
  • How water and seafood sampling and testing are conducted and how to better communicate results of analyses.
  • Design, use and effectiveness of signs.
  • Research opportunities.

Participants were keen to share their experiences and ideas and to help develop processes to ensure the region is even better prepared for the next incident.


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