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Be Smart Around Small Algal Blooms On Chautauqua Lake

Small algal blooms have started appearing on Chautauqua Lake.

They should not be allowed to ruin what has been a glorious early summer on the lake. Warm weather is driving people toward the water, so people should be aware of what they’re seeing.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are naturally present in lakes. Nutrient rich runoff from surrounding land, warm water temperature, and sunshine encourages blue-green algae growth. With the right conditions blue-green algae forms blooms which may appear as floating “rafts” or scums on the surface of the water, these blooms are known as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). Be alert and watchful for blooms which may resemble “pea soup” or have a paint-like appearance with strong colors including blue-green, green, yellow, white, brown, purple, or red. Blooms are more likely in nearshore areas than open water areas.

Try to avoid the blooms, particularly when it comes to swimming or allowing pets to drink the water. If people or pets are accidentally exposed to a bloom use clean water to rinse off as soon as possible. Consider medical attention if people or pets have symptoms including diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, skin irritation, and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties after exposure to surface waters with HABs.

The good news is water quality at the lake’s public beaches is satisfactory if one can find a beach that is open — public beaches in Lakewood, Mayville and two in Chautauqua Institution aren’t open because there are no lifeguards to work. And localized blooms shouldn’t have much effect on boaters and those who want to fish on Chautauqua Lake. And, while these early season algal blooms are a nuisance, but they also provide an opportunity for researchers on Chautauqua Lake who are studying the causes of harmful algal blooms. The early season activity gives them another set of data to take back to their labs as they work to come up with better plans to neutralize these nuisance algal blooms.

The blooms are small and localized and, for the most part, not worth dampening the summer fun that can be had on Chautauqua Lake. Be smart, and embrace what the summer brings on Chautauqua Lake.

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