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News of Otsego County

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EDITORIAL: Looking an Aqua Pandemic in the Eye

Editorial

Looking an Aqua
Pandemic in the Eye

Recently, we at The Freeman’s Journal have become aware that some of our readers, and others who may not be our readers, still have questions about the toxic algae blooms that of late have been creeping up on us from the depths and edges of our beloved Otsego Lake. So here goes an effort to get it right.

According to NOAA, whose satellites, along with those of the EPA, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, are picking up images of them, these blooms have been found in 2,300 lakes in the contiguous U.S., and in another 5,000 bodies of water in Alaska.

The algae, often — but not strictly — of a blue-green color, is cyanobacteria, which grows naturally in fresh water, though it also also been spotted, although less frequently, in brackish and salt water. The bacteria can also be red, neon or brown, and when it dies it exudes a rotten smell. When the water is warm, stagnant and nutrient-rich, as it presently is here, the algae can burst into blooms, which is what we are seeing along the shores of the Lake. The blooms can, and do, produce a toxin, called cyanotoxin, which can enter the mouth, nose and eyes, or be inhaled with water vapor. They can also keep blooming into the early fall, until the temperature drops.

This Week 09-01-22
Fernleigh Foundation Provides Grant to SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station

Fernleigh Foundation Provides
Grant to SUNY Oneonta
Biological Field Station

Jane Forbes Clark, President of The Fernleigh Foundation, announced today that The Board of Directors has approved a $9,695 grant to SUNY Oneonta’s Biological Field Station (BFS) to do twice a week testing on Otsego Lake to better monitor the effect of the recent Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs).

“It is important that science and data drive our decisions about the impact of the HABs,” said Miss Clark. “There is not a local organization better equipped to do that than the Biological Field Station.”

Dr. Willard “Bill” Harman, CLM, Distinguished Service Professor, Rufus J. Thayer Otsego Lake Research Chair, and Director, SUNY Oneonta BFS, explained that “the HABs typically start in deeper waters, deriving nutrients from the bottom muds, which have been deposited there annually for as long as the lake has been in existence, then visible blooms sometimes rise to the surface.

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