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Microcystis Blooms

Monday, September 8, 2003 at 11:36 AM

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A mysterious bloom of algae in Lake Erie is puzzling scientists and threatening a Great Lakes fishery. ideastream's Karen Schaefer reports.

Recent satellite photos show a vast green mat floating about ten miles off Maumee Bay near Toledo. Bob Heath, a limnologist at Kent State University, says the bloom is a strain of microcystis, a toxic blue-green algae. It’s been recurring almost every year since 1995 and showed up in Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron in 1997. Heath says it’s caused by too much phosphorus, but he says researchers aren’t sure of the source.

Heath says zebra mussels and other grazers won’t eat the algae, so it’s out competes other food sources, resulting in fewer sport fish. It can also poison fish and waterfowl and lend drinking water an earthy taste. Karen Schaefer, 90.3.

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