Blue-Green Algae Blots Lake Superior

UMD Researchers Look into Source of Algae

Duluth, Minn.- For years we’ve been warned to lookout for blue-green algae blooms in local lakes and rivers. But just a few days ago, it bloomed somewhere no one saw coming: Lake Superior.

Patches of blooms were reportedly 50 miles long between the Twin Ports and Apostle Islands. Now researchers at UMD’s Large Lake Observatory are trying to figure out why it’s happening.

Since the weather cooled down, the Algae has disappeared. Leaving the researchers with a murky green mystery to solve.

The blue-green algae is a type that can be toxic.

It’s been blamed for several dog deaths in Minnesota in recent years, and could also potentially make people sick.

Researchers also say that if it’s present long enough, it could effect fish-breeding, hurting many lakeside businesses.

At this point researchers have sent water samples in for testing to  determine if the algae blooms that were spotted late last week were indeed toxic.

They warn people to watch the water around them, blue–green algae blooms are pretty easy to spot.

“During these blooms when you go to the lake shore and instead of looking like Lake Superior the water looks pea soup green, the recommendation is to exercise caution,” said Professor Robert Sterner, Director of the Large Lakes Observatory.

Researchers there say they’re still studying just what brought the algae in. They believe it’s possible that recent warm temperatures,  and the stormy weather we’ve experienced this season could have caused the bloom.

While the presence of the algae is troublesome, it definitely gives the researchers a more urgent project.

“It’s always kinda a double edged sword with this kind of work,” said PHD Student and fellow algae-analyst Kaitlin Reinl. “Obviously we want the environment and the ecosystem to be happy and healthy. But it is very exciting for my work when we have these opportunities to go out and figure out what the main drivers are and sorta study this in real time.”

What’s so shocking is that algae normally doesn’t find Lake Superior habitable, due to its depth and cold temperature. But researchers said that continuing human process that alter or pollute the lake under that justification, will only make the algae worse.

If you notice anymore algae, or something else, you can contact the National Park Service.

They reiterate that as of now, the algae is gone. Yet they hope to have their findings soon, to prevent future blooms on Lake Superior.

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