Scientists find cyanobacteria bloom near Maumee River

Jul 22, 2014

Scientists are working to identify a cyanobacteria bloom near the Maumee River. It's a yearly event that occurs during the warm summer months.

When tiny microscopic plants (top photo) bloom out of control, it's called an 'algal bloom' (bottom photo).
When tiny microscopic plants (top photo) bloom out of control, it's called an 'algal bloom' (bottom photo).
Credit NOAA.gov

Researchers at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory confirmed that the cyanobacteria bloom has been intensifying over the last week.

Also known as blue-green algae, it can be harmful to the aquatic environment and to people. People shouldn't swim in a bloom- it can cause skin rashes or even severe stomach problems.

Tim Davis is a research biologist with the lab. 

"We don’t want people to panic because that’s not what our goal is," said Davis. "Our goal is to understand these blooms so we can understand what causes them to occur and then we can work on putting in management efforts to reduce these blooms and hopefully clean up Lake Eerie."

The blooms usually subside in October.

The blooms are a symptom of too many nutrients in the lake, so scientists are looking at how removing some of the nitrates and phosphorous can help.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story referred to "algae blooms" in Lake Erie. These are really bacterial blooms (cyanobacteria) that look like algae. The copy has been clarified above.

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom