Warming water and pollution are playing a part in a diversity of pernicious bacteria that can play havoc on aquatic environments.
From New York City to coastal California, waterways and shorelines are being overtaken by a poison-producing living slime, not only that, but it’s also killing pets, devastating tourism markets and making its way into local drinking water. So far this year, algae have caused dog deaths as well as illness in California, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. In August, toxic algae overtook Lake Erie, increasing to 620 sq miles.
These biotoxic blooms can last anywhere from a few weeks to over a year.
This nationwide algae epidemic points to a continuous shift in the aquatic environment – one that specialists say is being swept over by pollution and the climate crisis.
Anne Schechinger, a senior analyst for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said that they believed climate change was having a huge impact on the occurrence and growth of those blooms, and they knew the incidence of blooms was just going to keep going up and up.
Schechinger stated that it really was a national problem, and it essentially affected everybody
There’s no government agency comprehensively tracking the total occurrences of algae blooms nationwide, that’s why the EWG utilizes news items as a proxy. Without other available data, it’s a likely measure, but only as long as algae blooms carry on fresh. The more normal and less newsworthy recurring algae blooms become, the more arduous it may be to track them. And there are several other reasons to assure this is the slimy, water-tainting, beach-ruining, dog-killing new normal.
Not all algae blooms are harmful, and not all harmful algae blooms are toxic.
“Harmful algae bloom” is a catchall that consists of a variety of photosynthesizing bacteria that can play havoc on both aquatic and human communities, either by taking away sea life of sunlight and oxygen, forming so-called “dead zones”; slopping up on panoramic shorelines and ruining tourism economies; or generating water and airborne toxins that can kill.
A partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, NOAA, and the US Geological Survey keeps track of the water across the country for algae blooms utilizing satellite imagery, but all of the onerous and costly toxin trackings are left to state agencies.
Schechinger said that it really was up to the states to keep people safe from that, and not a lot of states were even doing any monitoring. That was going to be a wakeup call to a lot of those states that they needed to be doing more.