Harmful algal blooms – Cyanobacteria

2017 Melville Pond Bloom

Harmful algal blooms – Cyanobacteria


Coordinated monitoring programs (including URIWW staff and volunteers) to document and understand harmful cyanobacteria blooms. Check out cyanos.org to learn how you can get involved – including downloading the bloomWatch app.

Melville Pond in Portsmouth has the distinction of being the first advisory posted for a harmful algal bloom in 2017 (see http://www.ri.gov/press/view/30839 or https://patch.com/rhode-island/portsmouth/blue-green-algae-back-melville-pond-state-health-department for more details).  That was followed closely by the ponds in Roger Williams Park (http://www.ri.gov/press/view/30861) and St Mary’s Pond in Portsmouth (http://www.ri.gov/press/view/30860). An advisory was listed for Slack’s Reservoir in Greenville (http://www.ri.gov/press/view/30907)  on 7/13/17.  Almy Pond had an advisory posted on 7/21/17 (http://www.ri.gov/press/view/30975) and Spectacle Pond was posted on 7/24/17 (http://www.ri.gov/press/view/30991).

With all the rain this spring and  summer we may be in more algal blooms. Many of our lakes and ponds are naturally (and harmlessly) more darkly stained than usual this year from all the runoff. But if the water looks unusually murky or cloudy, or has a distinctive blue-green scum on the surface, it is worth contacting us (eherron@uri.edu or lgreen@uri.edu) to help you figure out what is going on. 

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can form harmful blooms in lakes, ponds, and rivers that make the water cloudy, sometimes even making the water look like pea soup or as if bright green paint has been spilled into the water. Under some circumstances these blooms may produce toxins that could make pets and people sick. A number of local waterbodies experience harmful algal blooms each year – we’ll post those on this page when they occur. This is not just a Rhode Island problem. Check out Poisonous Algae Blooms Threaten People, Ecosystems Across U.S. a story on NPR at http://one.npr.org/i/491831451:491848138. And even New York City’s famous Central Park ponds are not immune https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/07/nyregion/beware-the-blooms-toxic-algae-found-in-some-city-ponds.html

New study confirms that humans are responsible for increased cyanobacteria growth since 1800s…see http://www.fondriest.com/news/study-confirms-humans-responsible-for-increased-cyanobacteria-growth-since-1800s.htm for an overview.

Harmful algal blooms – Cyanobacteria

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