Thursday, June 2, 2022

Sun’s out, HABs out?

HABs map

As people enjoyed a long holiday weekend on the water and trails in the Adirondacks, the unofficial start to summer, another season opened for the year: the dreaded harmful algal blooms (HABs).

The Department of Environmental Conservation last week announced the beginning of the reporting season for harmful algal blooms in waters across the state and the Adirondacks. The agency’s map keeps track of HABs reported in the past two weeks as well as the entire season and is the best real-time view of the spread of the potentially-toxic algal blooms across the state.

The first HABs of the season are concentrated near New York City and on Long Island, including one at a lake in Central Park. But HABs have started to proliferate across the Adirondacks in recent years, or at least reporting of HABs, raising concerns among lake managers, residents and scientists. The DEC has asked the public to help monitor HABs and to report any sightings online.

The Lake George Association will be getting a boost for its efforts to monitor and study HABs. The association recently announced a $300,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. The grant in part will support expanding research partnerships on Lake George, Chautauqua Lake and Skaneateles Lake to better understand the causes of HABs, why some become toxic and the best ways to prevent them.

I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend and had a chance to spend time outside. My wife and I hiked Hadley Mountain on Sunday. It’s a steep and rocky climb but provides a great vantage point on the southern Adirondacks from the summit.

We also got to witness first hand why taking your dog up a fire tower is a bad idea. As a pair of guys went up the tower steps with a large lab mix, my wife said, “That dog is not going to want to come back down.” She was right and about 15 minutes later, they were still trying to coax the dog back to the ground, with just the last few steps to go. Pro tip: your dog does not want to go up the fire tower with you.


Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Photo: The DEC harmful algal blooms map shows the location of recent confirmed HABs across the state. There were none confirmed in the Adirondacks as of last week but some have started in downstate waters.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

4 Responses

  1. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “HABs have started to proliferate across the Adirondacks in recent years”

    To think how much more pleasant things will be as the Earth continues to cook, which a school of fools continue to deny for narcissistic reasons and other. Algae just love heat! I suppose the fear will eventually be when the algal blooms themselves start dying off due to the heat. Then what? What does it matter anyway? Who cares? There’s money to be made, there’s bills to pay!

    • Paul says:

      Charlie, these are not caused by algae. I am not sure why do we keep calling them this? Cyanobacteria that cause this are not algae.

  2. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Whatever they’re called heat is what encourages them Paul. Or am I missing something?

  3. Ray Budnick says:

    Has anyone done a study on the correlation of increasing HAB activity and the introduction of feral Canadian geese?
    Anecdotally it seems that as these feral geese have spread across the state, so has the severity and frequency of Blue Green algae blooms.
    It seems that before the introduction of these geese, Blue Green algae outbreaks were much rarer?
    Are the geese hosts to the algae, spreading it through their fecal matter or wetted feathers to remote ponds and such.
    A look at satellite maps in late summer shows ponds and lakes with conditions favorable to geese as being in full bloom of some sort of algae. Whereas ponds with less favorable nesting and feeding conditions being more pristine?