Toxic algal blooms are said to be common in waters around the world. However, evidence suggests that global climate change is exacerbating the problem, causing these events to become more frequent and more severe.
Some of the most common treatments for algae blooms include utilizing a sludge removal system or using of algae removal products. Then again, these harmful algal blooms make it more difficult and more expensive for local governments to treat water.
There are several types of toxic blooms, and their effects on the world’s aquatic systems vary. For instance, some produce biological toxins that can make their way up the food chain, resulting in fish kills and causing sickness among humans. Symptoms of this illness may include rashes, itchiness, and problems in the stomach and nervous systems.
It is important, then, to educate ourselves of the latest algal blooms to protect ourselves from their possible harmful effects.
Below are some of the most recent and most incredible photos of this year’s algal blooms, taken from different parts of the world.
Harmful algal bloom is already expected in the Great Lakes during this time of the year. However, 2015 is being reported to be one of the worsts seen in this decade.
On July 28, 2015, Operational Land Imager (OLI) took this image on the Landsat 8 satellite. The amazing swirls of green represent algal blooms in Lake Clair.
As of August 2015, there was still very little data on the severity of the bloom, and whether it is toxic cyanobacteria had yet to be confirmed. This bloom is expected to last at least way into September.
This photo was also taken by the OLI back in July. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that this bloom could rival the record-breaking 2011 bloom, which scored a perfect 10 on the 10-point severity index. While this one is expected to score between 8.1 and 9.5.
The blue-green algae growth is composed mostly of phosphorus and other nutrients, coming primarily from fertilizers and manure from nearby farmlands. The high concentration of phosphorous feeding these blooms was said to be produced by the wettest June, which Western Lake Erie has on record.
This one, in fact, has already been confirmed as toxic cyanobacteria and has reportedly already made several people sick.
The OLI captured the false-color view of this large bloom swirling in the Baltic Sea last August 11, 2015.
While satellite images alone cannot confirm whether this bloom has cyanobacteria, a phytoplankton and cyanobacteria expert from the Leibniz Institute of Baltic Sea Research was able to confirm that this bloom does contain a type of cyanobacteria known as Nodularia.
Excess nutrient loads are reported to be caused by agricultural and industrial run-off from European countries bordering the Baltic Sea.
Algal blooms are said to occur regularly across the Pacific Ocean. However, the size and duration of this most recent one, which started in May of this year is reportedly record-breaking.
Scientists have found that high concentrations of surface chlorophyll, which included both harmful and beneficial phytoplankton, were present in the coastal areas along the West Coast, reaching as far north as the Aleutian Islands, and as far south as Southern California.
The size of this bloom has affected marine life in the West Coast, causing deaths of marine life such as whales, forage fish, and even gulls. It has also led to closures of clam harvests and fisheries across the coast.
This algae bloom on the Ohio River was first spotted in mid-August of this year. Tests reveal that the algae are microcystins, which is the same type of algae found in Lake Erie, as well as in Buckeye Lake in Central Ohio.
The algae bloom on the Ohio River is also said to be spreading already to other areas in the Ohio Valley. One of them is Sunfish Creek in Clarington, where people are already being advised not to touch or drink the water.
These photos show us how amazing algal blooms can look like, but at the same time, they can also be scary if you think about their potential dangers.
Reducing nutrients coming from the land will help keep the blooms smaller and the water less toxic. Doing so will make for less incredible photos, though, but at least, it will result in having a healthier water for everyone.