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Early Bloomers

Posted by Stephanie A. Smith, Ph.D., on Fri, June 6, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

I was one. Were you?  All my friends still looked 12 while I was starting to look more like 16.  My mother, who eagerly awaited the day when I would quit coming home with garter snakes and toads in a shoebox, looked on with happy anticipation while my Dad just looked on with confusion.  Me?  I was mortified, and I was adamant that no amount of hormonal insurgency (definition:  an armed rebellion) would make me NOT want to go find toads.

algae-warnings-art0-gqksi5r5-1toxic-lake-tcb-3-jpgWhile that ended up being true, there’s another kind of early bloomer that might bring on similar confusion and fear.  In our home state of Ohio, we are already seeing harmful algal blooms (HABs) of the type we would not normally see until late summer.   I suspect that our friends at Buckeye Lake might be thinking, “This?  Already?” as the state advised this week against swimming and wading.  Microcystin levels at Buckeye Lake were already at 94 parts per billion (ppb), a level not observed until August in 2013, and well above the state’s advisory level of 6 ppb for microcystin.  A similar scenario has already played out this year at Grand Lake-St. Mary’s, where microcystin levels have led to an advisory against swimming in some parts of the lake.  A friend of mine who is an avid HAB watcher and lives on a small lake west of Columbus reported that as early as three weeks ago they were already seeing the blue-green algae get swept onto their beach.  I personally have measured microcystin in that lake in the past, and it has reached hundreds of ppb.

Algae2Are these early bloomers the new normal?  I really don’t know.  What I do know is that just like my situation in 1982, there is no “cure” (believe me, I prayed for one), and at some point one just has to learn to live with a situation.  I hope that someday we will figure out the cure for HABs, especially those that can produce microcystin and other toxins.  For now, we at Beagle Bioproducts will do our best to provide products and services to the community of scientists, lake managers, and residents that are trying to figure out how to address HABs, or how to live at an address that is frequented by HABs.  Pay us a visit online and see if we have tools for study or management of HABs that might be right for you!

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