What Are Harmful Algal Blooms?

(Laura Johnson) A harmful algal bloom is essentially the explosive growth of an organism. It’s usually algae or cyanobacteria in an aquatic ecosystem. (Christopher Winslow) Harmful algal blooms are different than our traditional algae. It’s the cyanobacterias that we refer to as harmful algal blooms that do have the ability to produce toxins. (Thomas Bridgeman) In Lake Erie, harmful algal blooms occur most often in the shallow, warm parts of the lake. Because western Lake Erie is shallow, and it’s warm, blooms tend to develop there in late summer. But after they’ve formed in western Lake Erie, they can then move around. (Winslow) Once they move east in the lake, die and sink to the bottom, they’re decomposed by bacteria. But as this decomposition happens, they suck oxygen out of the bottom waters. And so they can have an impact on fish populations and some of our critters that live at the bottom of the lake because it’s deplete of oxygen. (Johnson) one of the easiest ways to know if there’s a bloom and where it is and if it’s going to effect any of your trips, especially on Lake Erie, is to sign up for the Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom Bulletin. And that will tell you exactly where it is. Make sure that wherever you’re going to go fishing or hang out for the day on Lake Erie is not being exposed.

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