Harmful Algal Blooms (HABS)

HABS consist of micro algae such as planktonic blue-green algae, however there are over 300 different species of micro algae.  Excessive growth of algae colonies can become harmful and negatively affect people, aquatic species, birds, and other animals that use the affected area.  In the water they are harmful in two ways, (1) they produce toxins which taints food and kills organisms, and (2) they can be high biomass producers which will deprive the Aquatic Ecosystem of oxygen.  If a water body is experiencing HAB’s it is very important to not consume fish out of the water or to at least be aware of the symptoms that could result, and to avoid swimming until the algal bloom has receded.  Canines are also very susceptible to becoming sick from toxins produces by micro-algae and these complications can be fatal.

 
 
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Microcystis

Microcystin is a toxin that can be produced by Algal blooms.  Ingestion, inhalation, or direct contact with contaminated water may cause a variety of symptoms including irritation of the skin, liver damage, and can be fatal in both humans and pets It is impossible to tell from a visual inspection whether an algal bloom is toxic. Further, the toxin can stay in the water even after all signs of the bloom have disappeared.  Avoid water where a bloom is present and notify your lake/pond manager as soon as possible for toxin testing.

 
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Oscillatoria

A type of cyanobacteria which rises from the bottom of the water body floor to the top of the surface as green or brown fragmented pieces which are very mucus like with small bubbles protruding from the top.  Oscillatoria also reproduces through binary fission, meaning that an original organism splits to form two seperate organisms.  

Oscillatoria is unique as it is a motile, using micro-fibrils to "glide" usually towards light at the top of the water surface.  This algae also conducts anoxygenic photosynthesis, meaning oxygen is not required.  This means that oscillatoria is capable of growth and reproduction in water with low oxygen.