Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A spring of algae blooms

The combination of mild drought and record warmth this spring has provided good growing conditions for algae in tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. In Annapolis, we've had several mahogany tides. When these abundant algae die and decompose, oxygen levels in the water decrease which can kill fish, crabs, and other marine life.

Read about a recent algae bloom in Baltimore Harbor at Blue Water Baltimore here.

"In the United States we are blessed to have tremendous protections afforded to us by the Clean Water Act and other Federal and state environmental laws. Citizens of other nations lack the most basic legal protection preventing sewage or untreated industrial waste from contaminating their drinking water and natural resources. However, great legal protections do not equate with great protection – the enforcement failures of the Clean Water Act, now 40 years after its passing, have left us with waters which are often still unfit for fishing, drinking, and the merest bodily contact, let alone swimming.
Here in the Baltimore Harbor, the past few weeks have demonstrated this clearly.  Between April 18th and May 2nd of this year, we saw levels of chlorophyll a, which indicates the presence of algae, in the Northwest Branch of the Baltimore Harbor increase from an average level of 25 µg/L to 214 µg/L.
While the magnitude of this increase may not resonate with everyone, the visual results of this algal bloom were impossible to miss.  On April 25th, while getting underway to conduct biweekly monitoring of the Patapsco’s Middle Branch, we noticed shocking changes in the clarity and color of the Harbor’s waters. In just the course of a week, we went from being able to see juvenile rockfish and blue crabs over a meter below the surface near where our boat is moored at Downtown Sailing Center to losing sight of our hands as we plunged them in less than 8 inches of the Harbor’s opaque brown water." Follow the link above to read the rest of the post.