Blue green algae blooms are popping up all over Lake Champlain and other lakes across the region this summer. And scientists are trying to figure out why they appear to be more numerous this year.
Blue green algae is a greenish slimy mass of algae that floats along the shores of lakes. Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay is notorious for it’s algae blooms. There are occasional blooms elsewhere in the lake over the course of a typical summer. But this year, algae blooms are showing up across the lake. Lake Champlain Lake Keeper Louis Porter says he saw a significant bloom while at Kingsland Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh on the Fourth of July, and other blooms in the lake appear to be showing up earlier than normal.
Most algae blooms are benign, but some are toxic, and there’s no way to tell by looking at the mass. Lake Champlain Committee Staff Scientist Mike Winslow is training volunteers to monitor and report the blooms.
The Lake Champlain Committee has been monitoring blue green algae blooms since 2003 and typically sees them in the northeastern part of the lake. But this year Mike Winslow says blooms are appearing in southern areas of the main lake.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Professor of BioChemistry and Department of Chemistry Chair Dr. Greg Boyer studies algae blooms. He is currently studying them in the Great Lakes and in the past has studied their appearance in Lake Champlain.
Recently released advisories from New York State officials say people and pets should not drink water or swim where blooms discolor the water or form surface scum due to the risk of toxicity.