Shoreline Monitoring Program: Identifying and Reporting Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)
Over the past four years, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association has been diligently working to develop and implement a Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) identification and notification process for Seneca Lake. The identification program began in 2014 with the introduction of the HABs Hotline and has evolved into a collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Last year, over 80 shoreline survey volunteers submitted weekly reports of shoreline observations to the NYS DEC during the months of August and September. August was HAB free however, the last two weeks of September, the conditions were ideal for algal blooms and the shoreline survey volunteers obtained 60 suspicious bloom samples for analysis at FLI. The chart below summarizes the results of the Pure Waters HAB identification efforts.
In 2018, Pure Waters is expanding the shoreline monitoring program by:
- recruiting additional shoreline survey volunteers.
- adding monitoring zones to the shoreline.
- establishing HABs regional coordinators to assist shoreline survey volunteers.
- raising awareness about HABs by incorporating HABs education in publications and forums.
HAB FACTS: What you should know!
What are algal blooms?
In general, most algae are harmless and are an important part of the food web. Certain types of algae can grow quickly and form blooms, which can occur in isolated locations or can cover an entire lake. Our monitoring program has shown that in 2015 and 2016 there were only a few isolated occurrences of HABs on Seneca Lake. Unfortunately, in 2017 HABs were wide spread, covering most of the lake during the last two weeks of September.
What are blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae are not algae at all, but rather a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria. It is normal for cyanobacteria to be present in lakes. However, this type of bacteria thrives in warm, nutrient-rich water. When conditions are right, the bacteria can grow quickly forming “blooms.”
What are HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS (HABs)?
When blue-green algal blooms produce cyanotoxins they are considered harmful. Last year, some of the HABs in Seneca Lake produced microcystin and anatoxin which can cause health issues in humans and animals.
When do harmful algal blooms occur?
Blooms typically form in warm, calm waters during summer and early fall, but can occur other times of the year, if conditions are right.
Shoreline Survey Volunteers (SSVs) are needed to monitor the RED segments of shoreline noted on the map.
- Attend a 2 hour training session at the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva.
- Observe the same segment of shoreline for a 9 week period beginning July 30th.
- Document conditions using a digital camera or smart phone.
- Submit a weekly observation report.
To learn more about this program, click below, enter your contact information and click submit; a Shoreline Monitoring Regional Coordinator will contact you to further discuss the Shoreline Monitoring Program.