Toxic Algae Invasions In the Oceans and the Great Lakes Are the Largest In History

Algae Incursions Shutting Down Fisheries and Killing Marine Life in the Earliest, Most Extensive And Most Intense Blooms on Record

Pacific and great lakes algae plaguesThe naturally resilient Chinese people making the best of toxic slime


Coastal algae blooms are natural to some degree, but the plague of toxic events in the oceans and lakes is a plague caused by industrial agriculture, pollution and global warming.

The Pacific coast of North America is inundated with toxic slime that is closing commercial and recreational fisheries while making swimming a dangerous sport*. The Pacific Coast bloom stretches from up to the Aleutian Islands, an unprecedented event. In Washington State, Dungeness crab fisheries were shut for the first time ever. Marine biologists have described sea lions dying of seizures after eating contaminated fish.

Algae blooms typically take place in the fall when water temperatures reach their maximums. But water temperatures are reaching their maximums early this year, and so is the agricultural runoff that exacerbates the marine version of the little shop of horrors. Although the mysterious Pacific blob has disappeared, water temperatures remain several degrees higher up and down the coast.

The Great Lakes, which have seen several successive years of green tide incursions, is on track for another potential record breaker. Algae is already covering large areas of western Lake Erie. In 2013, the City of Toledo was forced to shut down its water supply intakes. The extent of the bloom this year remains to be seen.

But China continues to boast the world’s largest toxic algae blooms, a phenomenon that has escalated since 2007. The expectation this year is for an incursion of one million tons of biomass in Qingdao and similar events up and down the coast. Rather than have a bad attitude about it, the Chinese play in the green slime.

Later, when the blooms begin to decompose they produced hydrogen sulfide gas, which smells bad and can kill you.


See story on contaminated Rio Summer Olympics sports venues

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