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August 17, 2012

Blue-green algae absent in much of lake

PLATTSBURGH — Blue-green algae sightings in Lake Champlain have diminished in most places over the past few weeks, but hot spots persist in the northeastern corner of the lake.

Algae blooms were identified along the New York shoreline near Port Henry and Westport earlier this summer and caused a few area beaches to close, but conditions have stabilized since then.

“We really haven’t seen much in the way of algae blooms in the main lake since early July,” said Mike Winslow, staff scientist for the Lake Champlain Committee, which oversees a volunteer lake-monitoring program. “There have been no further reports (of blue-green algae) in the Westport-Port Henry area.”

No other sightings have been reported along the New York shoreline, including from monitoring stations located at Cumberland Bay State Park and Wilcox Dock in Plattsburgh, he added.

However, they continue to surface in Missisquoi Bay, a shallow section of the lake on the Vermont side that traditionally harbors blue-green algae blooms in late summer.

“We have had reports of very thick but transient blooms in Missisquoi Bay, but they don’t seem to be wide blooms,” Winslow said. “Missisquoi can be tricky. Conditions are right for that area to start taking off.”

Monitors from the bay have reported no blooms one day, followed by thick ones the next, and nearly dispersed blooms a short while later.

DIFFERENT ALGAES

Although there has been no scientific record to verify his thoughts, Winslow believes the blooms at various times in different parts of the lake may have a connection to the different types of toxin-producing blue-green algae that live in Lake Champlain.

The species that typically forms blooms in the main lake is different from the species usually found in Missisquoi Bay and may do well in the cooler conditions of early summer, he surmises. The type found in the bay may thrive in warmer, shallower water.

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