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Harmful Algae Turn Lake Tahoe Waters Blue-Green

By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, November 17, 2022 4:40 am

Harmful Algae Turn Lake Tahoe Waters Blue-Green

NEVADA – Across the globe, people have come to admire the stunning blue color of Lake Tahoe.

The lake’s blue hue is the result of a combination of several factors:

Fresh air
Clean water
The lake’s high levels of algae.

Geoffrey Schadlow, Ph.D., director of UC Davis’ Tahoe Environmental Research Center, says.

Cyanobacteria have been spotted in Lake Tahoe this year. Therefore warning signs have been erected.
Algae come in many of varieties, and many of them are beneficial to the ecosystems in which they thrive. There aren’t many microbes that are as dangerous as cyanobacteria. HABs, or Harmful Algal Blooms, are caused by cyanobacteria.

According to Schadlow, “warm water temperatures are one of the key drivers of cyanobacteria blooms when we get huge occurrences of them.”

September’s low 90s on the South shore of Lake Tahoe were around 15–20 degrees above normal for the time of year, breaking a record that had stood for 35 years. Schadlow explains,

Whether or whether this is due to plants, which have a “snowball effect” of making it even warmer, or whether or not it is due to climate change and record temperatures, the fact remains that water temperatures are higher, which is good for cyanobacteria.
Every month, researchers from the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center travel to South Lake Tahoe to gather samples of the lake’s algae. Drones and helicopters are also used to keep an eye out for any new algae growth and make educated guesses as to where it might spread.

A member of the HASTY Search and Rescue team for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department was asked by News 4 if the possibility of toxic algae blooms in Lake Tahoe would impact their lifesaving dives.

According to HASTY volunteer Randy Malm, the SAR team is routinely dispatched to the lake, both in the summer and the winter, to deal with drownings. Malm says, “I don’t care if the water’s freezing or if harmful algae are growing in it.

As divers, we typically don’t care about the quality of the water. To enter it, we have made the necessary preparations.
To ensure everyone’s safety from any harmful aquatic organisms, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center has not stopped collecting water samples from Lake Tahoe.

Credits: Fox Reno

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