Heat Brings Toxic Erie Algae Early

July 3, 2018


Words to live by.
“Scums are always dangerous.”

Toledo Blade:

Intense heat has caused algal blooms to form in western Lake Erie much sooner than normal.

Though toxin levels are not yet known, officials are issuing their standard advice to stay away from all scums floating on the lake surface.

“Scums are always dangerous and people should avoid them,” Timothy Davis, a Bowling Green State University algae researcher, said.

There are many small blooms now instead of one large one.

They are in the early stages of formation and move around with the wind. One seen along the shoreline of South Bass Island State Park on Sunday was blown out into the open water. By Monday afternoon, the water near that island was clear, Justin Chaffin, Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University Stone Laboratory research director, said.

Light, sporadic outbreaks began popping up in various parts of Lake Erie’s western basin the second or third week of June, Tom Bridgeman, University of Toledo algae researcher, said.

These so-called “mini-blooms” have been large enough to be seen via satellite. As temperatures warmed, though — especially after last weekend’s scorcher — they grew faster and became denser.

Scientists said they still don’t know if the scattered, initial blooms are here for the rest of the summer, or if they will dissipate in the coming weeks before the main seasonal bloom becomes established, as they have most other years they’ve formed.

But this much is clear: The lake is about nine days ahead of schedule for producing algae, Mr. Davis said.

Lake Erie has more than 200 types of algae, most of which contribute to the food chain and aren’t dangerous. But the one that garners the most attention, microcystis, is genetically not even algae. It is a blue-green form of toxin-producing bacteria that looks like algae.

It can grow in water as cool as 68 degrees. But it grows exceptionally well when the water temperature is 75 degrees or warmer, Mr. Davis said.

Now, with the region sweltering through a long spell of daytime highs in the high 90s and even nighttime temperatures unusually high, the lake is as warm as bathwater. On Monday afternoon, the lake water temperature recorded by a Stone Lab buoy near Gibraltar Island, across from Put-in-Bay, was a whopping 79.7 degrees, down slightly from Sunday’s 80.2 degrees, Mr. Chaffin said.

He said it’s almost unheard of to have lake water exceed 80 degrees this early in the summer.


6 Responses to “Heat Brings Toxic Erie Algae Early”

  1. redskylite Says:

    Déjà vu ?

    Worm-like creatures reproduced and became pervasive, eventually colonizing more and more area of the ocean floor. They continued to mix soil and organic materials. The bioturbation went on and on with the animals consuming more oxygen and releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The process reached a point where the result was already similar to the burning of fossil fuels at present.


  2. Gail Zawacki Says:

    If it were primarily heat then water in the tropics would be infested with toxic algae all of the time. It’s the nitrogen pollution. Humans are poisoning our own water supply, along with the air and soil.

    • redskylite Says:

      BANDAR AL-ROWDAH, Oman – The Gulf of Oman turns green twice a year, when an algae bloom the size of Mexico spreads across the Arabian Sea all the way to India.

      Scientists who study the algae say the microscopic organisms are thriving in new conditions brought about by climate change, and displacing the zooplankton that underpin the local food chain, threatening the entire marine ecosystem.


    • redskylite Says:

      In the Caribbean, a stinking seaweed menace spurs invention

      The seaweed is an ochre-colored floating algae with small air-filled bladders that keep it afloat. Although some sargassum washes up naturally on beaches in the region, researchers and other observers say that in 2011 the Caribbean began to see a huge influx of the weed washing up on the region’s beaches.

      The trend has continued, with a spike in 2014 and again in 2015.

      “We think this event is related to climate change in some respects,” said Jim Franks, a senior research scientist at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi in the United States.


    • dumboldguy Says:

      Redsky beat me to it. As his links points out, heat IS a factor, and climate change is making it worse.

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