|I originally suspected the background may have been Blue-Green|
Algae, I investigated and was unable to make that determination.
I have decided it is best to just stay out of the water.
We experience algae blooms quite often in the sloughs and backwaters, two areas here are currently being warned to avoid the water. One is an affluent area, 10 miles to the South of our island community, the other is 2 miles to the West. The residential area up to 50 years ago was a catfish farm, there are a lot of inlets and bays. The other is a County Park on a large inlet on the river which is the home of a boat marina. Both have a slow current, at times it is extremely slow to the point of near stagnation, allowing the vegetation to collect along the shoreline and against boat docks. Some sloughs have a healthy current, however, that does not make them completely immune as the debris still gathers in slow current spots.
Cyanobacteria, well known as "Blue Green Algae" is a photosynthetic bacteria often referred to as "Pond Scum". Brown, Blue-Green, Blue, Green, Reddish-Purple are the rainbow of colors it takes on. Growing in slow-moving nitrogen or phosphorus rich streams, lakes, ponds, and swamps. It will grow rapidly when the environmental conditions are just right. Most of the growths are lighter than water and will float to the surface forming mats or large rafts of scum, known as a blue-green algae bloom, May through October is the prime time for the blooms to occur, but in Wisconsin, some blooms have been seen during the winter, under the ice. Three commonly detected species Anabaena, Aphanizomenon, and Planktothrix, it is not always the same species to grow in any given waterway, the dominant species can and often does morph during the course of the summer.
Unlike many aquatic weeds, such as "Duckweed", Blue Green Algae is not consumed by water animals or organisms, it does not make up any part of the food chain other than being classified as a "primary producer", a living organism that converts sunlight and inorganic chemicals into energy to be used by other living organisms. Algae is high energy food for large organisms such as zooplankton, which is eaten by small fish. They are in turn eaten by larger fish they are then a source of food for large predators like humans, raptors, and raccoons. Blue-Green Algae is not consumed by any of these animals.
|This is a poor choice if the water looks like this, I suggest|
staying out of it.
Known as "Blooms" the accumulation of algae will discolor water, smells bad, tastes foul, and forms scum pads, causing oxygen depletion and ultimately kills fish.
*The Blue Green Algae thrives in environments where nitrogen and phosphorus are concentrated enough to support growth, but the nitrogen to phosphorus concentration is low.
*The water stagnates, low turbulence and the mixing of water is absent.
*Warm weather is stable for at least one week, but it may also bloom during cold weather.
*Sunlight as with other vegetation is vital to the growth of the plant.
(Follow this Link to the EPA's paper on harmful algae blooms)
The blooms hang around for weeks, sometimes months, as far as our slough is concerned it starts in late May and finally sinks to the bottom in late July and early August. We have an ally on our side, the wind blows relentlessly from May through August, windy conditions have a tendency to mix the water causing turbulence which disrupts the algae growth cycle. The bloom eventually dies causing a new set of issues.
When the Algae dies the cells begin to "leak" if it is a species that produces toxins they will be released into the water. Once released the toxins can remain for several months until they decompose and finally are no threat.
The danger is during this period with the potential for causing health problems for people, pets, livestock, and wildlife that drinks or otherwise comes in contact with the toxic water. Symptoms include skin and eye irritations, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, and cramps. Swimming in the water presents an opportunity for infection-causing medical harm and often an emergency. Blue-Green Algae may cause:
*Human health concerns
*It is able to kill livestock
*Causes foul odors
*Makes the water for storage, drinking, or recreation unusable.
*Increases the costs of water treatment
*impacts wildlife and domestic animals with illness, and occasionally leads to their demise.
|The cows must have water, if not they leave the pasture looking|
It is a particular threat to dogs, they jump in the water to chase a ball, while in the water they ingest some. Often upon leaving the stream they take a long drink, shake off their coats and begin to lick the toxins off of their fur. Effectively they are exposed numerous times while thinking they are having fun, little do they know. Hunting dogs are at more risk due to their increased exposure to the elements. Symptoms displayed by Cats, Dogs, Horses, Cows, and Birds when exposed moderately and severely:
*Blood, Black, or Tar Scat
*The nose and mouth turns pale
*They appear disoriented
*Entry into a Coma
*Go into shock
*Salivation is excessive
*Muscle rigidity, paralysis, and muscle tremors
*Skin and mucous membranes take on a bluish tinge
*Breathing becomes difficult
Death occurs shortly after periods of exposure due to respiratory paralysis, normally within minutes to hours.
There is no antidote for the toxic exposure if your dog displays the symptoms immediate medical care is imperative. Call your Vet, to get instructions on actions to take.
Algae blooms are created by chemical run-off into lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. Preventing the nutrients from entering our sources of drinking water is the most effective course of action to take. Prediction of a toxic release is difficult to make. Paying attention to the environmental, weather conditions, and oxygen levels of the water are many times effective to provide a warning in advance. When a bloom is predicted, a two-week advance warning has been experienced, cutting off the addition of more nutrients the algae bloom can be reversed. However, it is not a perfect science, if a bloom is predicted health departments will most likely continue to issue warnings to stay out of the water.
People don't always heed the warnings after all most algae are not toxic, and most people and pets do not experience exposure. Humans that are exposed to Blue-Green Algae toxins may become severely ill, death rarely (if ever) occurs, stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes on the skin are the main injuries. The severity of the infection depends upon the exposure, how long it is in contact with the skin, how much is swallowed, and how concentrated the toxins are.
(Follow this Link to the University of Nebraska's paper on Algae)
Dogs are most susceptible to extreme reactions to the toxins of Green-Blue Algae, it is more critical when living next to a body of water. There are times when it is warm outside my dog Skunkpuppy will come up to the house soaking wet. Dripping wet is a sure sign she has taken a swim, that is where the problem is manifested, there is no way she will stay out of the water. She is normally with me all of the time, I am home all day long, but she still slips away and takes a dip. Rinsing off with a water hose may help, however, she has already ingested who knows how much water, so cleaning her off is most likely ineffective. There is no way to look at the vegetation and make a determination of if it is toxic or not, or if the weeds are releasing poisons into the water. If pond scum forms the best preventative measure is to keep the animals away from the water, I see cows drinking it all the time, raccoons swim across the river constantly, and otters are well, otters.
|They depend upon us, but man are they hard to keep up with.|
Thanks for reading and sharing, if there is scum on the water, do yourself a favor and suffer in the heat, or sit in the shade.