What Are Algal and Cyanobacterial (‘Blue-Green Algal’) Blooms?
Simply put, algal ‘blooms’ are large accumulations of microscopic algae, a result of uncontrolled growth of a particular species, or mixture of species. Blooms often (but not always) manifest as discolorations of the water that can impart green, red, brown or other hues to the water, and have often been referred to historically as ‘red tides’. Blooms formed by noxious or toxic species (Harmful Algal Blooms [HABs]) may present a variety of different and sometimes co-occurring health risks. Different species of algae (including cyanobacteria, formerly called ‘blue-green algae’) can produce different classes of noxious or toxic compounds, and some individual species are capable of producing more than one type of toxin.
A Range of Impacts from Harmful Algal Blooms
Problems include foul smelling odor and taste, decreased aesthetics of the environment, and there are some algal-based compounds sufficiently toxic that they pose risks to human and animal health.
Some Useful Links Providing Basic Information on Toxic Blooms
There is now a huge scientific literature on Harmful Algal Blooms, ranging from studies of their distributions and basic ecology, to the genetics and physiology related to toxin production. Much of this information can be difficult for non-scientists to access. Follow the link below to some reviews and basic ‘primers’ on these species, and the threats they pose to animal and human health.
Other Common Types of Harmful Algal Blooms
Learn more about Prymnesium, also known as ‘golden algae’ and fish kills; a powerful neurotoxin called Pseudo-nitzschia; and Dinoflagellate Blooms, a group of algae that occurs in both fresh- and marine waters.
Assessing Your Water Body: “One Size Does Not Fit All”
Each water body is unique, with their own set of factors contributing to algal bloom formation. One solution that worked in a certain water body may not work in another.
View Our “One Size Does Not Fit All” Powerpoint
How to Treat the Problem
The formation of algal blooms is a complex issue and one that may not be easily solved. A sustainable solution to remediating the water body may require a long time and large investment.