Enjoying New York’s many water resources is an excellent way to spend the summer. New York Sea Grant is reminding those who do to be informed about harmful algal blooms (HABs), how to avoid exposure of oneself and pets, and where to report potential HABs.
“Not all algal blooms are harmful,” said Jesse Lepak, Ph.D., Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist with New York Sea Grant, “but some dense populations of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can produce toxins that can have serious effects on liver, nervous system, and skin of humans and their pets.”
Toxic HABs can develop in less than 24 hours, so pet owners are encouraged to avoid exposure to potential HABs which are often blue-green, but can also appear red, brown, or white. Blooms can look like spilled paint, pea soup, foam, scum, or floating mats.
The ingestion of HAB toxins can cause drooling, tremors, and seizures in dogs. Owners should take animals that have been exposed to HABs immediately to a veterinarian.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation maintains a website that provides updates on HABs called the Harmful Algal Blooms Notification Page at https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/83310.html. The DEC provides instructions for reporting a potential bloom and notifications of HABs. Dubbed NYHABS, the reporting system features an interactive map that is updated daily with reports of HABs as well as a new public reporting form.
The New York State Department of Health provides “Know It, Avoid It, Report It” information on blue-green algae blooms at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/bluegreenalgae/.
For more information on HABs from New York Sea Grant, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, visit www.nyseagrant.org/habs.