Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

Zebra mussels likely contributing to Great Lakes algae ills
The Star Tribune
Published January 28th, 2005


CLEVELAND, Wis. -- A rising tide of stringy, smelly algae on Great Lakes beaches in recent years likely results from zebra mussels creating clearer water while also adding nutrients to the lake bottom, researchers say.

The algae, called Cladophora, may get even more blame that it deserves for the putrid smell, said Vicky Harris, a water quality and habitat restoration specialist for University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.

Zebra mussels often get tangled in the algae and washed up with it, and the decaying mussels are more pungent than the algae alone - although that smell is powerful enough to be highly offensive, she said.

``Because it smells very similar to sewage, people mistakenly suspect that the decaying algae is caused by sewer overflows,'' she said.

The mussels are natives of Europe that were inadvertently transported to the Great Lakes in the bilge water of ocean-going ships. The algae occurs naturally in Wisconsin waters, growing on submerged rocks, logs or other hard surfaces and then coming loose and being washing ashore.

A midsummer die-off of algae, possibly because of warming water, increases the amount of it that washes up and decays.

New research about the algae, options for cleaning it from beaches and future plans for monitoring and researching it are to be presented Feb. 18 at a public forum at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, just north of Sheboygan.

Shaili Pfeiffer, a water resources specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, said the forum will give people a chance to learn about research conducted by various agencies and individuals last summer.

``Cladophora is a problem in all the Great Lakes except Lake Superior,'' Harris said. ``We're not quite sure why this type of algae has made such a comeback from the former nuisance levels in the 1960s, but we know that the water is clearer and light is able to penetrate more deeply.''

Harris said levels of nutrients such as phosphorus that led to algae growth in the past have dropped, but the water filtered by zebra mussels is so clear that sunlight can penetrate far deeper, allowing algae to grow at depths of 60 feet or more.

Also, the mussels' waste provides bottom fertilizer for algae.

The public forum is being sponsored by the DNR, the UW Sea Grant Institute, UW Extension, and the Wisconsin Coastal Management program in the state Department of Administration, a primary funder of Cladophora-related research and outreach.


This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map