Report Toxic Blue-Green Algae Blooms

The Washington Dept of Ecology has started a program to test blue-green algae blooms for toxicity. Any blooms in Green Lake should be reported so they can be recorded and tested. The bloom usually looks pea-green, and can be scum or filaments or small spheres.

blue-green algae looking green

Toxic blue-green algae looks pea-green in this Feb. 2008 Green Lake photo.

As the cells die, they can release pigment that is a striking blue, as seen in the photo below. Digital photos help document the bloom and can determine whether to sample. Contact Gayle Garman/Richard Fleming (206-525-1974), Sally Abella (206-296-8382, or Tricia Shoblom (425-649-7288) to report a bloom.

bright blue algae scum

Dec. 2007 close-up photo of the toxic blue-green algae in Green Lake.

The 2007 bloom was sampled by the County Dept. of Natural Resources and was predominantly Anabaena flos-aquiae, which can produce a neurotoxin. Shoreline accumulations also were seen Jan. and Feb. 2008. The blue-greens float to the surface, are pushed around the lake by the wind, then accumulate at the shoreline. The toxin may persist in the water a week or more after the bloom. The best way to minimize possible animal poisonings by the blooms is to keep animals away from the affected waters.